If Ivanka Trump’s outfit at her father inauguration looked familiar, it’s because it was: The white pantsuit that Trump chose to wear was almost identical to one that Hillary Clinton wore throughout her campaign.
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The symbolism behind Clinton’s white pantsuit has been widely reported. White was one of the three main colors of the women’s suffrage movement. It was also one the main colors chosen to represent the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage. According to the union’s mission statement: “The colors adopted by the union are purple, white and gold, selected for the significance they bear in the work the union has undertaken. Purple is the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause. White, the emblem of purity, symbolizes the quality of our purpose.”
Clinton wasn’t alone in her choice to wear white as she chased the executive office. Geraldine Ferraro, the first female candidate for vice president for a major political party wore a white suit when she accepted her nomination in 1984. As USA Today puts it, “Clinton’s fashion choice deliberately invoked patriotism and the history of women’s struggle for political equality in America.”
Trump’s choice to wear a white pantsuit similar to Clinton’s, however, is a little more controversial. While she’s been active in her father’s campaign as a so-called voice for women, she’s done little in her career to actually advance gender equality. Her #WomenWhoWork campaign is little more than an advertisement for her clothing line, as she said herself — she told Vogue when she launched the campaign that her aim was to change the stereotype that working women aren’t marketable, aspirational and sexy.
Then there’s the family leave and child care proposal that she reportedly “begged” her father to adopt during his campaign, which is riddled with sexist issues; namely, it only guarantees paid leave after childbirth for biological mothers, leaving out paternal leave and same-sex or adoptive couples. When she was interviewed by Cosmopolitan about the proposal, Trump repeated the same rehearsed statement in response to several questions before abruptly ending the interview, saying the questions had “a lot of negativity.” The interview made it clear that Trump didn’t know the specifics of the plan she supposedly championed.
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So is Trump’s white pantsuit a promise to do better? Or is it an empty statement like so many her father has already made? Only time will tell.
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