UPDATE (November 13, 2017, 7:00 p.m. EST): Last June, Chelsea Clinton was out and about at a fundraiser in New York City when several blogs (ahem Daily Mail) and twitter users mocked her choice of “destroyed” footwear. Now, a few months after the first attack on her worn-in wardrobe, Chelsea Clinton proudly wore her trusted nude pumps once again, this time at Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year Summit. And one again, the Daily Mail has mocked her for it. Quite frankly, I don’t see a problem here. Shoes are meant to be worn! I wear the same shoes everyday. Chelsea is a woman of the people, lest you forget what she had to say last time:
This story was originally published on June 7, 2017.
Another day, another ridiculous reason to critique a woman’s outfit. On Tuesday, a certain British paper wrote about the outfit Chelsea Clinton wore to an art fundraiser in New York City. Clinton’s look consisted of a simple black sheath dress, tweed jacket, and a pair of nude pumps — sounds nice and weather-appropriate, if not exactly newsworthy, right? Well, not if you’re the Daily Mail. The paper devoted the majority of an actual article that it actually published to mocking Clinton’s “destroyed” shoes.
“No wonder they’re shredded!” the headline screams. “Chelsea Clinton sticks with her favorite pair of frayed nude heels AGAIN as she steps out solo in New York for awards dinner.” Gotta love the all-caps use of the word “AGAIN,” as though there’s a law against wearing the same shoes more than once and Chelsea’s a repeat offender. (Which, in that case, I better go down to the precinct and turn myself and my favorite gold Topshop heels in right now.)
Proving its reputation as the least-subtle paper on the planet, the Daily Mail went on to share close-up pics of the heels in question from the front, back, and sides as though they’re key evidence in a criminal trial. The writer whipped out the thesaurus, referring to the heels as “busted,” “damaged,” and “destroyed,” and further elaborated the grave crimes of which the shoes are guilty: They apparently contain a “chunk of missing resin exposing the steel heel in the shoe.” Excuse me while I clutch my pearls and shield the eyes of any young children nearby.
It’s true that Clinton’s shoes don’t exactly look brand-new. They have some damage at the heels and the leather soles look a little worn — because they’re shoes and, by definition, they repeatedly touch the ground all day. And any woman knows city streets will chew up your shoes with speed and ease, and there’s really no way to prevent wear and tear short of being carried, Cleopatra-style, to your destination. Still, the Daily Mail has no chill for this.
I mean, we get it, they’re a tabloid: Whipping up controversy over women’s bodies and fashion choices is literally their business model. This is the same paper that never misses a chance to say a celeb is “flaunting her taut abs” when she’s simply… wearing a crop top. They gleefully published Kim Kardashian’s bikini pics and helpfully pointed out that her “curvaceous behind” is “dimpled with cellulite.”
While body-shaming is sadly expected from a tabloid, shading women for wearing the same clothes multiple times comes from the same root: dictating how women should look. And it’s not the first time they’ve done this — most recently, DM called out Australian news anchor Lisa Wilkinson for wearing the same floral blouse on air four months apart. I mean, come on! The journalist and Chelsea Clinton are both working moms who, like everyone, have a wardrobe of items they mix and match, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. For any outlet to imply otherwise is to buy into the sexist notion that women owe it to the world to be uniquely fashionable and camera-ready at all times. It also subjects them to a level of scrutiny that their male colleagues do not have to face. After all, that Australian news anchor’s male colleague wore the same blue suit every day on-air for a year, and nobody batted an eye.
Of course, the article’s focus on shading Clinton’s fashion choices overshadows the cool shit she’s doing. Maybe this writer could have written about how Clinton was attending a fundraiser for the foundation of Gordon Parks, a pioneering black photographer whose powerful work shed light on the plight of poverty in America. Or the fact that Clinton’s children’s book She Persisted, which celebrates a diverse group of women who fought for equality, is currently the ninth best-selling book on Amazon.
There’s nothing wrong with highlighting a woman’s style choices — fashion is an art, after all, and deserves appreciation the way all art does. But the street is not the red carpet, and to be so condescending as to ignore the fact that Chelsea is simply walking around handling her daily responsibilities, is the definition of sexist. We’ll keep wearing our scuffed shoes and keep being a boss, thanks.
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