On a Sunday morning, during the first-world battle of people preparing for the holiday season, I decided to take a break from my Christmas shopping and venture into the overly priced trenches at Hudson’s Bay. I wouldn’t describe myself as a girl with money, or someone with very good taste; but my boots were caked with dark slush, snow (and the occasional blood of competitive shoppers), and I owed my suffering feet a moment of fantasizing over designer shoes.
As I walked through the department, I noticed styles I’ve never seen before, and others I’ve seen too much; but there was one shoe, a purple stiletto curved with a low heel, that seemed to divide itself from the similar patterns of its relatives. It sat perched on a display table across the battlefield of consumers, and – knowing my rates of survival were low – I watched instead as a young woman bravely approached it.
“Look at these,” she tells the woman standing beside her. Based on the expression she makes when she sees the price, I’m assuming it’s her mother. “These are cute.”
“No,” the mother says, “don’t get them.”
The mother holds the shoe in her hand and points at the tag. “They’re from Ivanka Trump’s line.”
Ah, Ivanka Trump. That’s certainly a name the world has become infatuated with. You might recognize her as the model posing for Seventeen magazine in the decorated years of the 90s; or from her acting appearances on Gossip Girl (when she played herself) and The Apprentice (when she was herself). You might know her as the executive president of Trump Organization, or as an author, writing two successful books in less of a time span it took for George R. R. Martin to release his next novel in the Game of Thrones franchise. She has conquered success in various titles; as a businesswoman and an advocate, a mother and a daughter – but the only problem? She is the daughter of Donald Trump, and for that, all of her personal achievements are socially diminished in the brutal and merciless cycle of politics.
If for some reason you’ve been in a medically induced coma the last couple of months, let me give you a quick summary. In November of 2016, after a ruthless presidential campaign against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was elected as – careful! This might still be painful to read – the future president of the United States of America; a loud and bustling powerhouse that speaks mostly in the context of outbursts and exaggerated facts. In 2017, he will be titled as the most important man in the country. But before he was calling people “bad hombres” and threatening to put Clinton in jail on international television, Trump occupied a small place on my shelf as a doll my mother bought me for my birthday, a doll that copied his orange cotton-swab exterior and even voiced his famous “you’re fired” phrase.
Admittedly, I admired Trump as a kid — he was rich and famous and had kickass one-liners; but my amusement for him has dried out, and I’ve realized that the real MVP of the Trump family is not Donald, but Ivanka. In recent years she has transitioned into an iconic figure in the movement of working women. She’s become someone who advocates for those who already have an established career and those who desire one, using her blog, #WomenWhoWork, as a digital platform to advise them on how to climb the corporate ladder. When she first launched the initiative in 2014, she was told by many creative agencies to lose the word “work”, for the idea of women and work wasn’t something to be desired. “But I disagreed,” she states on her website. “To me, there’s nothing more incredible than a woman who’s in charge of her own destiny — and working daily to make her dreams a reality.”
Despite her accomplishments in the business and social spectrum, the public continues to denounce her success on the basis of her family. She has been accused of standing for the things her father does — even though it is said she had an important say in fighting him against abortion laws — and for mixing her business with his politics. In July of this year, after giving a speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC), she published a tweet on her Twitter account that included a link to the dress she designed and wore. Expectantly, in a generation where people carry the tendency to act brave behind a computer screen, she was penalized for it. Users began to accuse her of political advertising, saying that she took advantage of the televised speech in order to market her clothing line.
Now, I’m not sure if people have suddenly been overcome with amnesia, but isn’t this what the world does? Someone dies, and people talk about what the widow wore to the funeral. Someone gets married, and people talk about the gown the maid of honor wore (we’re looking at you, Pippa Middleton). And let’s not oh so ironically forget about Hillary Clinton’s infamous pantsuits — I mean, I’m pretty sure those got more attention than the wide smile she seemed to always plaster whenever someone commented on her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. This is what the world has become, this is what society does; mixing fashion with entertainment with business with politics. This is not a trend Ivanka introduced on her own.
But people still seem to ignore her; they seem to stay heavy on the fact of who her father is and not who she is. After the 2005 video of Trump surfaced in October, Shannon Coulter, a brand strategist, created the hashtag #GrabYourWallet in an attempt to encourage people to avoid Ivanka’s business. “If Ivanka Trump had distanced herself from the campaign I would not be boycotting her. But something changed for me when that tape was released,” Coulter told the The Guardian. “I think she is being used to whitewash the candidate and make him more palatable.” This hashtag became part of an anti-Trump movement, which, unfortunately, included more people than just Donald.
“The beauty of America is people can do what they like, but I’d prefer to talk to the millions – the tens of millions – of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message I’ve created,” Ivanka told Good Morning America in response to the boycott campaign. “My advocacy of women, trying to empower them in every aspect of their lives, started long before the presidential campaign did. I’ve never politicized that message. People who are seeking to politicize it because they disagree with the politics of my father — there’s nothing I can do to change that.”
Hypothetically, and a little tragically, I like to think of Ivanka as the purple stiletto I romanticized over in Hudson’s Bay. The shoe may be related to other stilettos, or might even have some friends from the sandal aisle, but that does not mean it acquires the same style and pattern as them; it doesn’t mean that the shoe is as comfortable or affordable as them. The stiletto is, for all intensive purposes, it’s own stiletto; and I would assume that any smart, realistic woman would be able to differ the qualities between this stiletto and the remaining stilettos in its family tree.
Because you see, due to the unfortunate circumstances of biology, Ivanka Trump is the daughter of a man who stands for everything the world is trying to evolve from, a man who wants to build walls instead of breaking them. You may despise him for what he’s said and for what he’s done, but truthfully, it would be unwise to label Ivanka for similar reasons due to the irrelevant fact that she is of the same bloodline. Sure, you don’t have to bow to her, or thank her for all of her contributions, but to simply boycott her because she stands by her father? I mean, I don’t know what the Americans call it, but in Canada, that’s called being a daughter. And from the amount of support she seems to be giving him, no matter how many times he screws up, it seems like she’s a pretty good one.
First published on INKspire.org