Sunday, January 6, 2019

Kyrsten Sinema’s Swearing-In Look Was A Bold Queer Statement

Lily Burana

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) holds a law book as she is sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 3 during the swearing-
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) holds a law book as she is sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 3 during the swearing-in re-enactments for recently elected senators in the Old Senate Chamber in Washington.
Sugar and spice and everything nice: That’s what femmes are made of.
Femmes, that is to say feminine-of-center LGBTQ folks, are also made of power, determination and now, with the swearing-in of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), senatorial gravitas.
Sinema is the nation’s first openly bisexual senator and only the second out LGBTQ senator. Mainstream media is fizzing, like a freshly popped bottle of prosecco, over Sinema’s super-femmey swearing-in ensemble: a pearl-trimmed white sleeveless top that featured her gloriously toned arms, and a floral-print wiggle skirt, a gray furry stole, glitter-dotted handbag and 1950s film noir waves in her hair. And to keep her warm in the Washington chill? A pink overcoat. The look was Sen. Rita Skeeter. It was “Elle Woods Goes to Washington” meets “The Girl Can’t Help It” — a fashion turn that was unforgettable in its audacity.
This isn’t the first time Sinema’s clothing has created a stir in politics. Before this swearing-in slayage came “Tutu-gate”: Sinema’s rival in her race for this Senate seat, Republican Martha McSally, ran a campaign ad that referenced Sinema’s choice to attend an anti-war protest event in a pink tank top and tulle skirt. “While we were in harm’s way in uniform, Kyrsten Sinema was protesting us in a pink tutu and denigrating our service,” McSally said. “We need strong leaders who understand the threat and respect our troops. Kyrsten Sinema fails the test.” It was an attempt to make Sinema seem both unpatriotic and lightweight.
Queer style comes in many forms, from Hannah Gadsby’s professorial soft butch styling to Lena Waithe’s full-on stud couture. Style is how we make ourselves known, a way of signaling to other members of the tribe, if you will. Sinema’s swearing-in look can best be described as high femme: a hyperfeminine appearance with all the trappings, like nails, hair and high heels. Think Janelle Monáe at the Met Gala. That’s high femme. That Sinema chose to show up not just in a femme look, but a high femme look is significant.
Why does it matter? Because representation matters. Visibility matters. Setting an example and breaking barriers matter. Sinema is sending a message: Women in power can stop denaturing themselves in order to be taken seriously ― or to assume even more power. We don’t need to resign ourselves to boxy suits, sensible flats, or shellacked helmet hair to exhibit maturity and credibility. The outfit was like a dare: Dismiss me at your peril. Femmes are a force of nature, and every time one shows out to let everybody know, it matters.
From the baubles on the toes of her shoes to the screen siren set of her hair, Sinema’s look was a subversive flaming arrow fired over the bow of the stodgy Beltway ship. The pink coat, with its nod back to the pink tutu imbroglio, and the exposed biceps, a stark defiance of the Capitol Hill dress code that insists women cover up their arms, powered that arrow with a “fuck you” thrust. The outfit was composed of bold statement pieces, and the entire ensemble was itself a bold statement: I’m here, I’m a femme queer, get used to it.
Subscribe to The Morning Email.
Wake up to the day's most important news.
Sinema showed up in a high femme look for her first day in the Senate.
Sinema showed up in a high femme look for her first day in the Senate.
Of course, the nattering nabobs of social media might be annoyed that so much attention should be given to fashion: I can’t believe you’re talking about her outfit. Let the woman do her job. But that’s part of Sinema’s statement: I can wear this outfit and do my job. Far more than men, women in politics are scrutinized ― and criticized ― for their likability, their mannerisms, their personal lives and, especially, for their appearance. Let us not forget that on the same day Sinema was sworn in, The New York Times deleted what it called a “poorly framed” tweet about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s dress. Which was, you guessed it, pink.
But the naysayers were outnumbered by fans and stans, who remarked on the outfit with a mix of admiration and wry humor. Culture writer Constance Grady praised Sinema’s outfit as “weaponized femininity,” which is about the most economical definition of femme I’ve ever heard. Another journalist, Mary Emily O’Hara, described the look as “first-ever Mamie Van Doren cosplayer in congress.” As a femme of long standing, it meant a lot to me to see a grown-ass girl’s girl show up with swagger, fully in possession of her faculties and her fashion sense. It was a thrill to see Sinema seizing the gendered sartorial scrutiny and having a bit of fun with it, femme-style. I would say she inspired me to order a faux fur of my own, but I already own six.
For Sinema to stress her bisexuality, and her femme-ness, is not just a matter of political expediency but also of posterity. Because bisexuality is so often overlooked, discredited and erased, if it’s not constantly affirmed and referenced, it easily becomes out of sight, out of mind. If you’re cis-femme, especially, “heterosexual” sidles up as the default assumption. Sinema ― who is cisgender and femme and bi ― is declaring herself in word, in deed and in fashion. 
Every femme moves through the world knowing that each day she must smash through the false dichotomies of femininity vs. credibility, of style vs. substance. She has to step over the stereotypes and erroneous assumptions about what a queer woman looks like. And then she has to, you know, get down to her actual work. Sinema rose to that challenge in an unforgettable way. She did it guns-out. She did it in pink. She did it in fun fur. She did it wearing sparkly shoes and carrying a polka-dot purse. She did it. Viva la femme.
Lily Burana is the author of four books, most recently Grace for Amateurs: Field Notes on a Journey Back to Faith

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Romanian People Noticed That Dior Copied Their Traditional Clothing And Decided To Fight Back In A Genius Way

Fashion brands quite often come under fire for shamelessly plagiarising other brands or artists and “borrowing” elements from local cultures.
Last year, when Dior’s pre-fall collection came out, people began to notice that some of their clothes looked oddly familiar. The designs put the small Romanian region of Bihor in the spotlight. As it turns out Dior’s coat bears a stunning similarity to the traditional Bihor coat. The famous fashion house is now selling the coat for a striking sum of 30,000 euros, however, none of the proceeds will go to Bihor’s community, since Dior never credited the source that may have fuelled their inspiration.
This whole situation began a genius new way to fight against cultural appropriation. Romanian fashion magazine, Beau Monde, launched a campaign to set things straight. With the help of native Bihor craftsmen and designers, they created a brand new fashion line which helps preserve their traditions. This is how Bihor Couture was born. The project allows fashion enthusiasts to buy authentic traditional Bihor clothing for a much cheaper price, while directly paying the local craftsmen who made the clothes.
Scroll below to see Bihor’s designs!
More info: |

Bihor is a small Romanian region filled with unique and beautiful cultural traditions

Image credits: Bihor Couture

The people there are very proud of their traditional clothing designs

Image credits: mirceacantor

That distinguishes them from other cultures

Image credits: Romania Tourism

However last year, when Dior’s pre-fall collection came out, people began to notice that some of their clothes looked oddly familiar

Image credits: Vogue

They bear a stunning similarity to the traditional Bihor jacket

Image credits: Ţara Binşului

Here are the clothes side by side

Image credits: Vogue La Blouse Romaine

The similarities are striking

Image credits: Vogue Romania Tourism

Dior is selling the clothes for 30,000 euros

Image credits: Vogue lablouseroumaine

However, none of the proceeds will go to Bihor’s community, as Dior never credited as their source of inspiration

Image credits: Vogue Romania Dacia

To fight against cultural appropriation Romanian fashion magazine, Beau Monde, launched a wonderful campaign

Image credits: Bihor Couture 

With the help of native Bihor craftsmen and designers, they created a brand new fashion line Bihor Couture

Image credits: Bihor Couture 

The project allows fashion enthusiasts to buy authentic traditional Bihor clothing for a much cheaper price, while directly paying the local craftsmen who made the clothes

Image credits: Bihor Couture 

Watch the video below to hear what Bihor’s fashion critics have to say about Dior’s clothing

Image credits: Bihor Couture

Here’s what people had to say about the issue:

Statue of Liberty climber identified as immigrant activist

The woman who scaled the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday has been identified.
Cops say Therese Patricia Okoumou — a 44-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of the Congo — was the person responsible for the Fourth of July protest.
She lives in the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island and is currently in federal custody, according to police sources.
Officers from the NYPD’s Emergency Service Unittransported her to a federal detention center on Wednesday night following her three-hour standoff with authorities. Her case is being handled by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
Sources said that Okoumou told investigators that she climbed up to the feet of Lady Liberty to protest President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy on immigration and the separation of families at the border.
According to court records, she’s a Congolese immigrant who once filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights — seeking a judicial review and reversal of a “determination” it made regarding alleged incidents of abuse that Okoumou suffered at the hands of a social services agency on Staten Island where she worked.
Specifically, Okoumou claimed that in 2005 she was treated “in a demeaning manner” by her bosses and told that she would be fired “for complaining of discrimination.” It’s unclear why her complaint was tossed out.
In 2011, Okoumou made headlines after she was hit with an astounding 60 violations for illegally posting ads for her services as a personal trainer.
The Department of Sanitation slapped her with $4,500 in fines that year after she spent five hours one Sunday posting the fliers on Manhattan utility poles.
In 2017, she was arrested and charged with obstructing governmental administration, unlawful assembly and trespassing during a demonstration at the Department of Labor building on Varick Street. She had allegedly covered her mouth with tape and refused to respond to police demands.
On Wednesday, Okoumou told investigators that she was part of a group protest organized by Rise and Resist NYC. The activists unfurled a banner on Liberty Island less than an hour before her climb, which read: “ABOLISH ICE.”
Organizers initially tried distancing themselves from Okoumou’s Statue of Liberty stunt — saying she had “no connection” to their cause — but later admitted that she was part of the group.
Members described her on social media as a “total bad ass.”
“She’s very dedicated to the resistance generally, but specifically to the issues surrounding immigration and the treatment immigrants have been receiving from ICE and Customs and Border Control,” explained Jay Walker, a Rise and Resist activist “She’s been an active member for about four and five months.”
Walker told The Post that Okoumou helped plan the banner demonstration, but carried out the Statue of Liberty stunt on her own.
“She didn’t tell any of us about this plan,” he said. “We were all really shocked.”
The group had announced their Fourth of July stunt on social media moments before carrying it out Wednesday, but made no mention of the climb.
“We were all really taken back,” Walker said. “At first, we didn’t realize it was our fellow member. It wasn’t until we were able to see close up photos of her that we realized it was her.”
According to Walker, Rise and Resist has been working to ensure that Okoumou gets legal representation now that she’s in federal custody. He told The Post that she managed to make it up to the feet of Lady Liberty all on her own — without ropes or climbing gear.
“We came through all the security protocols that we needed to when getting onto the Liberty Island ferry,” Walker said, noting how Okoumou made it through the metal detectors.
“I guess she just had some hidden climbing skills that none of us knew about.”