Dora Bakogianni

In this portrait photography for Kappa Magazine of Kathimerini News, Dora Bakogianni stand in front of my camera, in the middle of the historical  Dionysios Areopagitou Street in Athens.

"Celebrity is a mask that eats the face", said the American writer John Updike. For more than 30 years, Dora Bakogianni has been a famous politician. What is her real face and how long has she "endured" behind the "mask" of political celebrity? In a way, that was the theme of our meeting in her office, with its double view of the Parthenon and the Pillars of Olympian Zeus, at the beginning of Dionysios Areopagitou Street, in Athens. The eldest daughter of Constantinos Mitsotakis, the older sister of the president of New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the former minister and almost the leader of the party is the female parliamentarian who has gone through perhaps the most difficult tests and has recorded the longest journey in politics to date. Where does the self-confidence that many admire about her come from, or the arrogance that just as many others insist on accusing her of?


Why be in politics when you know in advance that you will be misunderstood, beaten and never recognized? "There are a million reasons not to be in politics and probably all of them are right. But there is something about politics that you cannot find elsewhere. That incredible satisfaction that you have the ability to change a little stone in things and in the lives of others. It's not true that you can't. You can. Evrytania today is not the same as Evrytania in 1989. I used to cross the rivers walking on a log and there are now bridges. Evrytania had four doctors and now she has thirty-six, while she had reached forty-eight.

"And yet, I have no faith in myself," she says as she begins to slowly and steadily remove the mask, wanting to show that her real face is the same as the one she's had since she was a little girl in Athens and Crete. "It's a myth that I have a lot of confidence. Instead, I'm a woman with terrible insecurities and too many complexes. My main concern for many years was my height. Terrible complex. No boy would dance with me. I was the tallest and ugliest in the class. My mom sent me to ballet. But the teachers made me dance backwards. Eventually I found myself near a warehouse and left, because I was messing up the line. My grandmother had told me that there was no way I would ever find a man in my life, because as tall as I am, who would care to take me? And at school, my grades reached 16-17 at the most. I saw the twenties with binoculars."

The smile as a "defense"

But how does this description square with her public image? "When I entered politics, confidence became part of my public image, because what I didn't want at all was to reveal those fears and that insecurity. I felt that if others took my great weaknesses for granted, they would trample me down. After that, no one ever found out what my fears were. I was once attacked for smiling. But the smile is a pure form of defense. Apart from the fact that I smile by nature, in difficult times the smile is a defense, and I would say that it is a very good defense, since it irritates a lot of people..."

Text by Pavlos Papadopoulos for Kathimerini