Don’t Let Amy Coney Barrett’s Confirmation Hearing Dress Fool You
Photo illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty
Amy Coney Barrett's pink turnip dress spoke to her: It looked sensible, practical, and stoically feminine, an image she wants to project.
It was a pretty dress, maybe stylish by DC standards. A flat bow rested on her right shoulder, just below a pearl necklace. The judiciary chose a very nice outfit for their first confirmation hearing. Too bad it was curated for such an ugly, lazy process.
The dress stood out in a room full of anodyne blue and black suits; it spoke of gentle prettiness when the procedure is exactly the opposite. Her outfit exudes maternal warmth, a light comfort. It hides her solid right record. It masks the harm she may have attested to against women, LGBTQ people, anyone with Obamacare, and victims of voter suppression.
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Barrett's deep pink color may not be exactly youthful, but there is some life in it - which underscores her relatively young age for a Supreme Court justice. Barrett's 48, like Brett Kavanaugh's 53, means a long tenure. This dress with its cute design is reminiscent of that.
Barrett's dress made a statement. So did the democratic legislators at the hearing. Senators Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Mazie K. Hirono and Amy Klobuchar all wore light blue blazers, the color of their party.
Hirono and Klobuchar put Ruth Bader Ginsburg enamel pins on their lapels. Kamala Harris, who enlarged the meeting, had a copy of the children's book I Dissent on a table behind her. A cartoon by RBG wearing their judge's robe and famous collar grinned back at the camera.
When the Democratic coup spoke out loud, Barrett's dress looked quieter. In her opening speech, Barrett spoke of her devotion to the family. She peppered in sweet details about each of her seven children. She mentioned that her college mentor, an English professor, gave her a copy of Truman Capote's collected works after graduation. (Was the subtext that she is against LGBTQ?)
The dress worked overtime to allay certain fears. How could someone who looks so safe be a threat?
Barrett revealed himself as a caricature of a mother, or at least an archetype of a mother's rights, until the hearing. Outfits can go a long way in creating a good reputation or communicating values. Barrett's gender and family are seen as an asset by the conservative men who vocalize on her, and this calm dress is a perfect fashion wearer for her and her.
Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Senator, endorsed Barrett as an Avatar for Women's Empowerment during his declaration. He said she signed two copies of the constitution for his granddaughters and wrote "Dream big" next to her signature. He called Barrett an "inspiration to millions of young women in this country".
Lindsey Graham said, "This is a position created by the tragic loss of a great woman and we will fill that position with another great woman," referring to Barrett's assumption of the seat of the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg. As if women were interchangeable. As if an extraordinarily remarkable woman's seat could be so easily occupied a little over three weeks later.
But being a mother means more than looking like one. To be a "tall woman" means more than being close to power. Barrett's outfit projected ability and kindness, but she wore it when exercising the command of a president who possesses none of these qualities.
Amy Coney Barrett's dress highlights the absurdity it was meant to lull. And maybe it's a warning. The Republicans are speeding up this process, and she is happy to follow them, perfectly and properly dressed.
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