Pelosi noted that no one is indispensable, “but some of us are just better at our jobs than others.” That wasn’t overconfident swagger. It was honest. But it was the kind of honesty that women mostly don’t offer up about themselves, because that’s not what little girls in powder pink were taught to do. They were taught to whisper with humility.
…Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wore a Palestinian thobe in honor of her mother. Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian American elected to Congress, recalled in an essay for Elle that as a child, she would watch as her mother sat on the floor stitching and embroidering the gowns with a lamp at her side. The decision was a statement about Tlaib’s background and a future in which it can be as welcomed in the United States as Western European roots are. Similarly, Rep. Debra Haaland (D-N.M.) expressed her Native American heritage in turquoise jewelry and immaculate embroidery while also underscoring one of her campaign promises, which was to focus attention on missing and murdered Native American women. African American congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) had a kente cloth wrap draped around her shoulders. Each of them used fashion to press the point that diversity is essential to the power dynamic.
…Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who came to the United States as a refugee from Somalia, wore a hijab at a time when both Muslims and refugees have been vilified. She also wore white, as did Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Their attire stood out as symbolic of a new beginning, as well as a nod to the women’s suffrage movement. As Pelosi noted in her speech, this year marks the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote.
…Fashion communicated a visual story about the day’s place in the country’s ongoing narrative and the ways in which these newly sworn-in congresswomen define their roles and themselves.