Let Them Wear Valentino, Part Deux

Group News Blog, October 24, 2008

Jeff Foxworthy has a venerable routine about why you can’t give rednecks money. They’ll invest the funds in commemorative ceramic plates of NASCAR drivers, he insists. They’ll build a new room onto the trailer “so we don’t have to sleep with Jim’s daddy no more,” he drawls. When he got his first big check, he ran right out and bought a pair of blue stingray cowboy boots (about $750 at Falconhead in Brentwood, CA — the ultimate fantasy boot emporium) — beautiful and unusual, in a delightfully tacky kind of redneck way.

That’s the kind of stuff that happens when people are in cotton so tall it’s over their head. (Been here, done this myself.) You lose perspective, quickly. And the next thing that happens looks something like this:

Photo of Piper Palin, courtesy Huffington Post

Now, I really do not want to believe that seven-year-old Piper is the proud owner of her own Louis Vuitton Montorguiel PM ($790 at eluxury.com). More likely, some enterprising photog caught her helpfully looking after Mommy’s handbag while Mommy was off serving mooseburgers or something.

But given what we’re hearing about the Palin family — stories like Bristol Palin’s $1700 shearling maternity coat, for example — it’s easy enough to believe that they dropped $800 on a little treat for darling Piper.

This is what excess looks like.
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Let Them Wear Valentino

Group News Blog, October 23, 2008
Sarah Palin looking understated in her now-famous $2500 Valentino silk jacket.
Photo NY Post, via Huffington Post.

The flap over Sarah Palin’s $150,000 wardrobe may seem like a petty thing to be paying attention to in the twilight hours of a 20-month campaign. Fashion, according to one view, is frippery — a parade of passing fancies without much in the way of meaning. Most of us can’t remember what we wore last Friday; and for most of us, it doesn’t really matter.

But, according to another view, clothes are a language as evocative and expressive and rich with symbolism as anything that comes out of our mouths. The choices we make about color, cut, and fabric speak volumes about who we are, what we value, where our heads are at, and what we aspire to. It’s natural that in a culture that has traditionally silenced women’s voices, the art of getting dressed would become the dominant way we tell our stories about who we are.

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Mother of the Year

Group News Blog, October 16, 2008

piperpalin22016: This photo was later discredited by Snopes. But the argument below still stands.

The provenance of the above photograph is unknown. It arrived in my mailbox this morning, shorn of context. (For all I know, Piper Palin’s face — and it is her face, I checked — was Photoshopped in there. Or maybe the extended finger was. Who knows?)

But this glaring little girl with her middle finger defiantly held aloft does hit a sore point with me — one I’ve been meaning to write about since the Palin nomination was first announced, but held off on because in backchannel discussions with several other bloggers (mostly women), my take on this just poured gasoline on some of the most vicious flame wars I’ve ever been embroiled in.

The argument was over whether or not it’s fair to consider Sarah Palin’s family in assessing her fitness for office. I think it is. And before you accuse me of rank sexism or focusing on things that don’t really matter to her performance on the job, please take a deep breath, step back, and let me explain where I’m coming from on this.

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