|Image from google
Anyone who ever thought that using clothing as a political tool would be frivolous or overrated, or groaning another piece that insisted that a woman in a white pants suit made a statement, had no better influence than the state the Union address on Tuesday evening.
When the television cameras emerged in the busy chamber of the house while Congress awaited President Trump’s entrance, the most striking sight was not the grandeur of the room (though it’s pretty grand) or the nerves and excitement of the special guests, but rather the unmistakable Block of convention women shine in white on the democratic side of the aisle.
They wore white shirts (Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas) and white capes (Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York). Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar combined her white jumpsuit with a blue headscarf and red shirt – as clear a statement of patriotism as the trump-pence red-tie-blue-tie-white-shirt-twofer) and many, many white jackets and suits, including on Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the house.
And there was no way that neither the President nor the watching audience missed them, or missed the message in what they wore: one of gender equality and pride, the long history of the story, and the struggle for women’s rights, the commitment to an agenda and in the background joy. It was in front of him as he looked out into the room and back when Mrs. Pelosi brandished her hammer.
The women had announced their plans on Tuesday afternoon, and Florida representative Lois Frankel tweeted: “Tonight, @realDonaldTrump in the Union of the Union will be looking at the chamber of the house and seeing a sea of #Suffragette White making the news loud and clear sends that @HouseDemWomen fight for the economic security of women and families. “
But knowing that it was planned and seeing the effects was not the same thing. As a political theater, white was strikingly effective.
— Rep. Lois Frankel (@RepLoisFrankel) February 5, 2019
On a night when the audience in the chamber had the task of listening and perhaps standing and applauding (or sitting and looking disappointed), the women still managed to get their voice heard. On a night when Mr. Trump used a number of guests on the balcony as symbols, they provided a powerful symbol for themselves.
Part of it was undeniably the sheer mass of the assembled women – of the 102 in the house, 89 were Democrats, and almost all wore white clothes, which gave the group a critical mass (Mrs. Frankel had also invited the 13 Republican women to wear white, but it was hard to tell if they had participated). Part of it, however, was the way they wore the paint: involuntarily like a sign of enthusiasm for their job.
As if it was fun. As if clothing was something to enjoy and exploit, rather than being downplayed and dismissed or used as a protective or diversion tank. It was not about fashion. It was about the past and the future and the solidarity that was contained in color.
It contrasted starkly with the tightly strapped, quasi-military black skirt suit by Ivanka Trump and the crisply buttoned black Burberry trench dress with large silver buttons worn by Melania Trump, the First Lady, who also wore black leather gloves a decor that seemed vaguely eerie. (Not to mention the section in the President’s speech about the danger lurking at the border, with its sombre overtones.) Or the camouflaged beards grown by Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
The White Island also raised all sorts of questions about Tiffany Trump’s white dress, especially for those who use the opportunity to position Trump family members as secret rebels (see the Free Melania group).
Despite all the promos that the members of the House have made, it is possible that Miss Trump just missed the message. Finally, the organizers also called on male officials to wear white shirts and white ribbons – and at least the president and the vice president, as well as many other republicans, at least wore white shirts, if not for that reason. The point was lost.
Chances are, this kind of clothing activism will continue. After all, it was the third time in a row that the Trump opposition in Congress had used clothing as a form of communication.
After an election in which the white trouser suit was revived for the first time as a suffragist symbol, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention (did she know what she would do?) And a Facebook movement that urged women to do so According to polls, in 2017, congressional women gave the first speech by President Trump to the House and the Senate. These efforts did not have the impact of the same decision on Tuesday, perhaps due to the lower number at that time.
At the Union of the Union’s 2018 Union speech, many women wore black in solidarity with the #Metoo movement – though here, too, all dark suits were less visually captured in a sea of dark suits. Instead, Mrs. Trump stood in the center of her white pantsuit.
Now we are on the breakthrough.
In this social media age, where the entertainment of the moment is controlled by screen handles and memes, the art of creating viral imagery is crucial to influencing. And let’s be honest – what we put on our bodies, how we look, is an integral part of it.
On Tuesday, this was the record number of congress women in the speech of the union state. And they carried it well.