Jill Biden launches new look for first ladies (review)

Let’s take a breath, okay? After four years of real madness, this incident is quite tame. And yet the hubbub is not at all surprising and, I would say, gives us the opportunity to consider a few points about our lingering (and, as always, unfair) expectations of women – and the external role of the American first lady.

On the one hand, people always have something to say about the wardrobe, and appearance in general, of any woman in the spotlight, and especially women in the spotlight, with criticism inevitably – like this. was clearly this time – filtered. partisan politics.

Who can forget how some detractors went crazy when former First Lady Michelle Obama showed off her bare arms in her first official FLOTUS photo, and once disembarked from Air Force One in shorts on her way to vacation (that didn’t “make the whole thing right” , Robin Givhan told the Washington Post). Meanwhile, her followers rejoiced in her toned arms, relaxed positivity, and usual attire – her Ann Taylor tank top, Target purse. And also remember how the ever-changing hairstyle of then-first lady Hillary Clinton drew both sneaky scrutiny and brotherly support.
Although fashion and style criticism has started to spread to men, it is far from being sort women receive as obvious. It’s not fair … but for now, it remains the reality.

Right or wrong, Biden must already know that. She spent eight years as a second lady, after all, and now, in the early days of her husband’s presidency, she must know that she is going to be almost as watched as he is, and that this outfit, if not totally inappropriate. , could certainly be seen as an unconventional choice for the wife of one of the world’s most powerful rulers.

She had to know it would inspire needlessly distracting and divisive comments – as fashion choices such as these always do – if not a direct comparison to the previous first lady (with a few blatant exceptions, Melania Trump played it safe on the first lady outfit). She had to know it would make unnecessary headlines as the new administration attempts to restore decorum and honor to an office that has been beaten over the past four years, and present an opening for critics of her husband and her party to pounce – with sometimes disgusting rhetoric and mean visuals on Twitter, given the sexism that is still used as a weapon in partisan politics.

And indeed, the direction of commentary on the outfit – whether praise or criticism – has fallen along party lines.

The truth is, Biden looks good. She has great legs (we can all see it now), which is probably why a First Lady who usually dresses in classic, tailored, and often colorful clothing, donned – or her stylist put it on – this short leather skirt. She also has a PhD in Education and teaches English full time to students, where such attire might not be so out of place, all other things being equal.

But while Biden’s outfit isn’t that bad (as the Twitterverse points out, Melania Trump sported much more inappropriate looks as the first lady) that’s not entirely appropriate. She looks “cool”, sure, but it’s not her job to look cool on the way off a plane, with cameras on standby, at the Andrews Air Force base. It’s part of her high-profile job as first lady to look dignified. And graceful. As his wife negotiates infrastructure plans and the coronavirus response and more – and clings to high favorability ratings so far – she shouldn’t be news. Not for that.

Let me be clear: It’s not that Jill Biden, the woman, isn’t allowed to dress the way she wants, look sexy, or try something new. . But Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, must keep in mind that she is now a role model for all kinds of Americans. It must absolutely belong to the people – to everyone.

Of course, we could choose to be thankful that this is news at all – that President Biden is, by most accounts, doing a very good job and running a much healthier office than his predecessor, so much so that the The week’s biggest uproar has to do with his wife’s fashion choice. If that’s what passes for the worst offense for these two right now, well, come on to it.

It’s too early to say whether Jill Biden’s fashion choices will feature in how she directs her role as First Lady – whether she (or her stylist) thinks “fashion icon” – and what that would mean.

But it is not too early to address the following plea to him: consider a little more sartorial restraint? Right now, many people want to forget about the past four years – the misstatements inherent in the jacket “I don’t care, do you” for a trip to the US-Mexico border, the marrow helmet getup in Africa – and the misguided actions of the previous administration.

They want a First Lady who they can admire, relate to, and admire – for who she is, with no distractions about what she’s wearing.

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