Two winters ago, I was living in Boston. It was cold and I needed a new coat. I went to the Macy’s in Downtown Crossing after work one evening and tried on basically every winter coat in the store. I finally settled on a camel-colored wool coat with big patch pockets and a detachable hood. It wasn’t until after I decided on that particular coat that I looked at the brand name—Ivanka Trump. I’ve never been big on celebrity brands, or caring about brands that much in general, but I figured it’s just a coat and the name wasn’t visible anywhere other than the tag and the tiny imprints on the gold snaps. Plus it was on sale, and what girl doesn’t love a bargain? Combined with my Macy’s coupons, I got the coat for about 75% off the original price.
I wore that coat throughout that winter and the next. It was warm and I often got compliments on it. I started to feel a little weird about wearing it, however, when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for office. For instance, I was unnerved by his self-aggrandizing and overt bigotry towards Mexicans and Muslims, but like so many others, I wrote him off. I never thought he would make it to the primaries. Plus, I told myself that his daughter wasn’t him.
Honestly, I knew very little about Ivanka prior to her father’s 2016 campaign. I knew she’d been a model, went to Wharton, and had a clothing line. I thought of her as a wealthy socialite and businesswoman. An early 2015 profile in Vogue made her seem not only smart and feminist but also likeable. She was outspoken in her support for women who want to work and have a family. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
The following summer, the campaign was in full swing when I found a navy blue lace dress at Marshall’s that I liked. I was surprised by how good it looked on me, and was disappointed when I noticed the inside tag once again said “Ivanka Trump.” I felt squidgy inside, but I really did like the dress, and it was less than $30 on sale. Plus, I figured with the way stores like Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx buy their inventory, her company had already made their money whether or not I personally bought the dress, so I did. I only wore it twice, and I felt bad both times.
I, like many others, held out hope that Ivanka would somehow temper her father. I should have known better. Ivanka’s interviews in the later stages of the campaign were disappointing at best. She walked out on a Cosmopolitan interview when she didn’t like the tone of the questions. I felt betrayed by the voice of “Women Who Work” championing a maternity leave policy that only offered six weeks of paid leave, and had no allowances for fathers or same-sex couples. The hard truth is that Ivanka Trump is not, and never was, the feminist I wanted her to be.
I was particularly angered when I would see her remain silent as her father signed an executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Even worse, he signed the ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day and failed to even mention the Jewish people in his statement. And worse was the fact that Ivanka, a Jewish woman, said nothing. As Jews, we know the dangers of silence in the face of prejudice.
By the time Donald Trump had been elected, I’d moved out of Boston and back to my home state of Delaware. I find myself being strangely comforted by the mild winter we’ve been having (despite what that represents in terms of climate change), because it means extending the wear of my fall coat—and not having to wear my Ivanka Trump coat. I can’t even look at the coat or the dress anymore without feeling immense shame and disgust. I regret ever giving even the smallest amount of money to that family. I refuse to wear either item of clothing, but I have yet to get rid of them either.
Here’s my conundrum: Do I donate or trash these two garments? On the one hand, trashing seems irresponsible. They’ll end up in a landfill somewhere, and I try my best to live as sustainably as possible. However, donating seems wrong too. Do I really want people who are struggling to be stuck wearing my old Ivanka Trump-branded coat? That seems like a slap in the face to the very people the Trump administration is hurting the most.
So, for now, they hang in the closet, reminding me of my privilege and complicity in purchasing a brand because I thought it didn’t really matter that much. Like so many people leading up to the election, I believed the polls that said Hillary Clinton would win. It wasn’t until a week or two before the election that fear really set in, and when I saw the map turning red on election night, I knew my hopes for the first female president were over.
These days I pay a lot more attention to where my money goes. I’m all about “grabbing my wallet” to support businesses that openly defy the administration and boycott ones that support it. I guess I should go to Nordstrom to buy a new coat, and pick up a Starbucks latte on the way.