Brace yourself, because the worst has happened: our First Lady of the United States has stepped out wearing fishnet stockings. This was the tone struck by many on Twitter this weekend after FLOTUS Jill Biden was spotted wearing fishnet tights under her knee-length black skirt as she stepped off a plane in Maryland, after which many took to social media to suggest the attire was somehow inappropriate either for a woman of her age (69 years young, thanks very much) or the stature of her position. As so many of Biden’s attention-drawing moments seem to these days, the fashion choice also prompted a spirited debate of whether former First Lady Melania Trump was held to the same level of scrutiny insofar as being scantily clad, with the public again pointing at her history of naked modeling photoshoots as evidence that Biden was not being criticized in good faith.
As Biden stepped out in the now infamous stockings (see photos here), which some are now claiming aren’t even so much fishnets as they are patterned tights, (some of) Twitter was quick to jump in with the assessment of her attire as “trashy” or calling it a “hooker look.” Others on Twitter quickly countered with examples of less PG photos of Trump that existed on the internet, as well as praising Biden’s character and condemning Trump’s.
When comparing Biden’s fashion history thus far as FLOTUS to Trump’s, some on Twitter have contended that Trump’s superior fashion choices were overlooked due to liberal media bias. The fashion choices that did receive media attention, however, like her “I don’t really care” jacket worn for visiting the border or the colonial-style pith helmet she wore on a trip to Kenya, had not criticized the first lady for lacking decency — at least not when it came to showing skin. Criticisms of Trump’s fashion revolved around the insensitivity of the message sent by her clothing choices: suggesting she didn’t care about the issues at the border, for example, or about the colonization of Kenya.
To that end, it’s interesting to see Biden’s sartorial choice be perceived as a moral affront now, with many on Twitter pointing out both Trump’s history of NSFW photos and the lacking empathy denoted by some of her fashion choices. Why is this considered offensive? Why now? And, yet others are asking, is this reflexive comparing back to Melania Trump helping anyone?
Ultimately, neither woman will be able to thrive in the public eye so long as they are judged on the image they present and not the work they do, even more so when that judgment includes knocking off points every time there’s the suggestion of nudity. Comments that try to support Biden by trashing Trump’s history of nude modeling, calling her degrading names and suggesting that work devalues her humanity, miss the mark entirely, despite the frustration that those images were never met with the scandalized reaction some are now giving photos of Biden in fishnets.
Our two cents? Dr. Biden looked fabulous, and anyone wearing stockings after this year of quarantine deserves a standing ovation. But moreover, we’ll all be in a much better place when we spend less time worrying about our first ladies’ hemlines — and less time worrying about anyone else’s while we’re at it.
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