That Powder Blue Suit Though

by - January 21, 2017

I streamed the inauguration from my desk yesterday. I've watched every transition of power since Clinton took the White House. The pageantry, history, and scope of a peaceful transition is inspiring and makes me proud to be American, no matter the party or politics.

FLOTUS Melania Trump was brilliant in her Ralph Lauren powder blue suit—everyone knows that already. It was so lovely, so stunning, she may have even overshadowed the new president.

I discussed her inauguration day clothing choices on social media. I indulged in scrolling through photos of everything she's worn since arriving in DC on Thursday, past first ladies' ball gowns, and Jackie Kennedy's bar-setting style.

I enjoyed every minute of it until I didn't.

I started feeling icky, like I was betraying of my own gender.

I understand that when you become the First Family, a piece of you belongs to America. Which piece? Well, that depends entirely on which piece our fickle society cares to have on any given day. We feel entitled as the followers because our leaders represent us. I get that. And as leaders, we  (because I am one of those, too) know this is a dynamic intrinsic to leading. It's just going to happen, fair or not.

On inauguration day we care about hairstyles, designers, and how much leg shows through the slit in the dress. We care about necklines, jewelry choices, and make up and who applied it. Yet, I heard not a single comment about President Trump's choice of shoes, handkerchief, or what he carried in his pocket yesterday. President Obama either. Just the fashion choices of the women, who apparently are fair game, are open to our scrutiny, opinions, and even approval or disapproval.

It makes me a little sick inside.

Yet I like to look my best. I enjoy style as much as the next person. And I would hate for my haircut or my wardrobe choice to stand in the way of being paid attention to for my character, my work ethic, my intelligence, and the contribution of my good ideas.

Because we women have those things, too. We are more than a great set of legs, and I'd hate for our humanity to get lost behind our beauty, no matter how hard we work to look and feel pretty.

I'm not sure where this one ends up when these ideas are carried to their ultimate conclusion. Double standards never lead to a single place. And I'm not sure where women expect to arrive when we rail against being objectified and participate in it at the same time.

I will continue to care about how I look. I'm no idiot—I know my appearance and how I present myself convey something of who I am to those I meet. That's true of all of us—to some extent regardless of gender. But if that's true of men, it's even (somehow) more true of women, and I'm not sure I want to contribute to that double standard.

Melania Trump's sense of style from her first 48 hours in Washington seems to say she is, or at least aims to be, classy, timeless, feminine, respectful and dignified. I like what that says about her.

I just hate feeling that I learned this much from Melania's clothing and grooming, while learning little—nay, nothing!— from President Trump's.

I believe the biblical standard is that men and women are different from one another, but equal in value and worth. I don't think we're there yet in real life. Not even in Western culture or 2017.

I think I speak for many women when I say I want my contributions to be of more import than my appearance.

That Ralph Lauren suit was something, wasn't it. Classic and timeless, for sure. It has brought me back to a classic question through the ages and will haunt me for the rest of my days.

We are such suckers for beauty, all of us.

I loved that blue suit, and I hated it.

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  1. In research for this post, I came across a clip from Scandal called "Abby Tells the Truth About Women in Power." It's a powerful monologue that begins at about the 1 minute mark along the lines of this post.


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