Carolyn Kaster/AP. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Trump, at the White House Friday.
Ivanka Trump, who are you?
And how are we supposed to feel about you? Especially now, with your father and a top White House adviser plugging your brand on Twitter and Fox.
Despite your poise and interest in the arts and the challenges of working women, do you buy into your dad’s worldview? Do you believe the president of the United States should call out a retailer for dropping your fashion line? Or do you feel like a sane person trapped in a bizarre sitcom?
She’s Ivanka, a working mom married to an Orthodox Jew who’s raising three adorable kids and cares about LGBT rights, and he’s the Donald, her dad — and the president of the United States — who roams the White House alone at night and sends out angry tweets. How does she juggle it all? Tune in! Only on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC.
Ivanka Trump’s delicate balancing act got a little more unbalanced this week.
First, Seattle-based Nordstrom said it would no longer sell Ivanka’s products, then Neiman Marcus dropped her jewelry line, and TJX Cos. of Framingham, the parent company of Marshalls and T.J. Maxx, told employees to reduce the visibility of Ivanka’s products in their stores.
For those who were only vaguely aware that there was an Ivanka Trump before Donald Trump ran for president — and only learned about her brand as it was taking a hit — one fashion wag described her clothing line as a slightly more feminine Ann Taylor. It’s what you would wear to the office if you were a character on, say, “The Good Wife.”
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” she said from the White House Thursday on Fox News. “Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”
The White House’s focus on the business interests of a Trump family member set off alarms — congressional officials have asked for an ethics review of Conway’s behavior — and further inflamed the president’s critics. But even as controversy churned around Ivanka, there she was, trending on Facebook in a magazine-quality photo, just a mom in a sleek black suit and stilettos with her 10-month-old baby.
“Taking a call in the White House with my personal assistant Theodore,” read the caption.
Mother and son made a lovely pair — and prompted at least a few liberals to wonder whether they should be embarrassed to be spending time clicking on Ivanka’s Instagram when they can’t stand her father.
“I’m torn by Ivanka Trump,” said Lauren Beckham Falcone, an on-air personality at WROR-FM.
“I can’t hate her too much, but then I do, then I don’t,” she said. “She’s almost too poised to be annoying, but then I remember that I don’t know how much of her father’s ideas she believes. She’s an enigma.”
Falcone’s conflicted feelings toward the first daughter can be seen in her relationship with her black rayon Ivanka Trump jacket (bought before Trump was anything in her mind but a developer). It’s too cute to give up, but it’s irritating to see the Trump name staring out at her. So she cut out the label. “It looks really good with whatever you wear,” Falcone explained.
Ashley Mears, an associate professor of sociology at Boston University, says that Ivanka taps into three charged areas in our society — class, gender, and politics.
“This is a new kind of work for consumers,” she said. “We haven’t had to do this kind of untangling before.”
And things could get even more complicated for Ivanka, said Joseph H. Hancock II, a professor of retail and merchandising at Drexel University.
“She is in a very strange position,” he said. “I really liked her, and I still do like her, but I would not buy her products. People are at the point now where they’re saying, ‘If you support [Donald Trump], I will not support you.’ And I think it’s going to get worse.”
Indeed, as President Trump remains determined to restrict immigrants and refugees and appoints controversial figures to his cabinet, it’s becoming harder to reconcile the two Ivankas.
One moment we see her in a political role — accompanying her father to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base Feb. 1 to honor the remains of the US Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid in Yemen.
But click from that story to IvankaTrump.com, a lifestyle and shopping site (think Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s site, but pitched toward middle America).
Real-world concerns do not intrude on IvankaTrump.com. There, Ivanka is concerned with mom things — healthy dinners (“4 Make-Ahead Soups for When You Want to Veg Out”) and play (“Happy Galentine’s Day) and travel (“6 Yoga Moves to Do On a Road”).
The site is filled with inspirational quotes (“Do not wait to strike until the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking” — William Butler Yeats) that would be right at home on Chelsea Clinton’s site —if she ever starts one.
But what is Ivanka Trump thinking? What is her inspiration, really? Guess we’ll have to wait for another episode.
Beth Teitell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.