During the campaign, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka played an almost First Lady-like role to her father. Clad in one of her own label’s designs, she occupied a key speaking slot at the Republican convention, her hair so smooth and free of flyaways it looked like it had been brushed by angels. She joined him post-debate, congratulating him like a loving stage mom. She’s stylish, poised, and well-spoken. But thanks to her willingness to lend her image to her father’s campaign, she’ll never have the respect of the demographic of American women her brand needs most again.
Ivanka has relied on her image to build a career out of appearing professionally aspirant. The perfect trajectory for Ivanka’s brand would be for her to now pivot from New York society girl to well-manicured ideal for American women, a Jackie O-type, gliding into black tie state dinners in a designer gown that gets the internet buzzing with adoring hashtags and women rushing to buy the knock-off version. The demographic from which Ivanka craves acceptance—“women who work,” according to her clothing brand’s tagline—just so happen to be the same sort of women who are unlikely to forgive her.
While Donald Trump won white women overall, he lost white women with a college degree by 6 points, and he lost women overall by 12 points, thanks to landslide preference for Clinton among women of color. Women with college degrees, the women with the most spending power, are not feeling great about Trumpland right now.
There are certainly media outlets that are willing to fling themselves at her in an attempt to garner favor from the president-elect and his family. People magazine, which just last month ran a piece from one of its reporters who was allegedly assaulted by Donald Trump, this week is whistling a different tune, running a slideshow of 22 adorable photos of Ivanka Trump and her family. In the days since Trump’s election, the magazine has unveiled a glossy cover starring President-elect Trump, and publication’s website has run several stories presenting Ivanka as a normal and good role model, instead of a mouthpiece for a campaign that got a man elected president whom several people on that very magazine’s staff are pretty sure sexually assaulted a colleague.
But American women are not stupid, and the sort of woman who care about who is negatively impacted by Trump’s rhetoric and policies will not soon forget Ivanka’s role in installing him.
Women closely associated with bigotry, no matter how fashionable, do not tend to leave positive legacies among the upscale consumer. You won’t see Joseph McCarthy’s wife’s face on a brand of high-end candles, or Asma al-Assad’s placid face on a fancy line of bedding, or Imelda Marcos brand footwear for the woman on the go. Women who have benefitted from feminism the most—white women, college-educated women, urban professional women— tend to have enjoyed consonant career success, and thus the most money. Why would they throw it at a person who has delivered stump speeches for a man whose famous quotes include “Grab them by the pussy”? Ivanka Trump was right to shy away from a pro-Trump ad she shot in the waning weeks of the campaign. The role that will most elevate her profile—daughter of a president whose rhetoric en route to the Oval Office was pure fascism—will also irreparably doom her brand.
Prior to Donald Trump’s run for president, it was easier to feel neutral-to-positive about Ivanka. Despite her father’s already-documented history of boorishness, she seemed to have turned out okay. She was a successful businesswoman, a modern gal who seemed more focused on pivoting off her family name to make a name for herself than echoing her father’s dusty old-school ideas.
The 2016 campaign has exposed Ivanka Trump’s hypocrisy, and laid bare that being a successful beige lifestyle brand and a surrogate for the most patently offensive presidential candidate in recent history are mutually exclusive. By choosing to campaign on behalf of her father, she made a choice that she cannot rescind. Ivanka cannot sing the praises of maternity leave out one side of her mouth and make it difficult for her own employees to take maternity leave out the other (the same side of her mouth she uses to champion a man who has referred to pregnancy as an inconvenience to employers). She cannot post to her personal website cool ways women can take care of themselves when the man she is actively helping to elect has destroyed the lives of more than one woman. She can’t intone vague platitudes about unity and love while stumping for a man who wants to force Muslims to register and is endorsed by the KKK. She can’t do all of these things and then run back to her career as a living lifestyle brand.
As the 2016 campaign wore on, a growing movement urged women to boycott Ivanka Trump brand clothing. Sales figures from the next quarter will likely be telling. For what it’s worth, Nordstrom currently features an array of her wares for sale, but at the moment this is being written, one-third of the items available for purchase online were being offered at discount.
Oh, well, Ivanka. There’s always reality TV.