Ivanka Trump is very relatable and likable, a reassuring contrast from her polarizing father. During her father's presidential campaign, she advocated for making child care more affordable and accessible.
She helped create the child care tax plan that he released in September. The child care deduction that the Trump campaign proposed, back in September, was meant to augment the current child tax credit and dependent-care flexible spending accounts and could be available to families with a stay-at-home parent as well as to those paying for child care.
Photo: Business Insider
The plan that Ivanka wants would allow individuals earning less than $250,000 a year, or married couples earning less than $500,000, to deduct child care expenses from their income taxes, up to the average cost of care in their state, according to the September plan. Lower income families would receive a rebate for their expenses, up to $1,200 per year via the earned-income tax credit.
She's often portrayed herself as the advocator for bread-winning mothers as she harnessed her father's White House campaign and victory to elevate that image. She rallied to close the gender pay gap during her RNC speech: “Single women without children earn 94 cents for each dollar earned by a man, whereas married mothers made only 77 cents," said Ivanka. She added: “Gender is no longer the factor creating the wage discrepancy in this country, motherhood is." She's almost right; the gender is still a factor, but her point is notable.
It was almost enough to buy-in to her motivating speech. Ivanka IS a real-world role model. Had her father been almost any other man in America, her campaigning and stumping for her father would have been a resounding success.
But he isn't any other man, and he constantly reminds the American people every chance that he gets.
Whenever he encounters a perceived rival or potential threat, he bluntly assesses their appearance: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? He said about Carly Fiorina, before adding: “I mean, she's a woman, and I'm not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on, are we serious?" He also declared that model Heidi Klum is “no longer a 10," that Arianna Huffington is “a dog who wrongfully comments on me," that Bette Midler is “extremely unattractive," and that Rosie O'Donnell is “a dog." His misogyny is well-documented and widely known.
But then came the shocking 2005 recording (published by The Washington Post) of his boasting that he could “grab women by the p***y," because “when you're a star they let you do it." When his wife, Melania, was questioned about it, she seemed genuinely hurt: “The words my husband used are unacceptable and offensive to me," she said in a statement. “This does not represent the man that I know." She continued: “I hope people will accept his apology as I have, and focus on the important issues facing our nation and the world."
But when did character stop being an important component of leadership?
Even with his unrelenting stream of misogynistic comments, his supporters could conveniently dismiss all of it as locker-room banter. Even Ivanka publicly commented on her father's now infamous comment: “My father's comments were clearly inappropriate and offensive," she said in an interview with Fast Company magazine; and I'm glad that he acknowledged this fact with an immediate apology to my family and the American people."
But that wasn't good enough for many others, including Shannon Coulter, who runs a marketing boutique firm near San Francisco. A male boss had groped her once and Trump's comments reminded her of that pain, saying: “She (Ivanka) puts women's empowerment at the center of her brand, and is still campaigning for someone who is an alleged serial sex assaulter." Coulter birthed the hashtag #ivankant and shared her thoughts with the Internet, sparking a trend that had reached more than two million Twitter accounts: #BoycottIvanka.
The popular hashtag #GrabYourWallet urges American consumers to boycott stores and websites that carry Trump products. The movement has persuaded several companies to drop their Trump products, namely items in Ivanka Trump's fashion line.
But his own words allege sexual assault, of course he dismissed it as locker-room banter, but that revelation became ground zero for #ivankant #fashionnotfascism #BoycottIvanka and #GrabYourWallet, and with it the birth of a powerful movement. His unorthodox leadership style fueled mass protests not just around the country, but also in cities around the world.
A talented writer who writes for Cosmopolitan, Michelle Ruiz, wrote a riveting piece about why women are boycotting Ivanka Trump, back in October, 2016.
Ruiz talks about one woman's personal account, a female college student that she interviewed, a former self-described “Maxxinista," who can longer shop there because they carry the Trump clothing line. It didn't even matter that Ivanka's name was the only Trump name on the label. Read the Ruiz article but be warned of certain trigger words and expect to be moved by the female college student's personal account of how she suffered traumatic flashbacks to the physical and sexual abuse of her past.
In short, the student said: “My first thought was, grab them by the p***y, we can do anything we want, we don't even ask." She went on to say that “This is what Trump means to me." And she's not alone.
Photo: Mark Wilson
Another woman who, wishes to remain anonymous, identifies as a proud Republican, and lives in New York City. She said that, she too, can no longer purchase Trump's blouses: “I just can't do it; I can't bring myself to buy it." She added that she doesn't dislike Ivanka at all: “I know that she can't control her Dad; she's in a hard position."
Appearances can deceive...
Ivanka has been remarkably cool and composed given how it's affecting her business prospects: “The beauty of America is that people can do what they like, but I prefer to talk to the millions-tens of millions-of American women who are inspired by the brand and the message I've created," she revealed in an interview with Good Morning America.
When Ivanka gave the introduction speech during the Republican National Convention, she said that her father had told her, when she was growing up, that there's nothing that you can't accomplish when you marry vision and passion with an enduring work ethic." One cannot help but imagine just how much she must work now to undo the damage created by her father's seemingly never-ending string of verbal mishaps.
Since the election, 3,600 Trump-branded products have been dropped from online stores. That represents a 61 percent drop in products since late November, 2016, according to Shannon Coulter who published the data. Stores such as Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus, Belk, Kmart, Sear's, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others have stopped selling Ivanka Trump's products online.
Getting beyond something of this magnitude will require a significant amount of endurance and strength to overcome. Publicly she appears composed and strong. But when alone one must wonder how heavy a toll this must be for her to endure. Then again, countless scores of people suffer quietly alone, everyday of their lives, struggling with the painful memories of sexual abuse.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."