Bona Fide Disputes

Stilettos or Ethics: Which Will Trump?

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It’s the age-old phrase: if the shoe fits, wear it.  What if it’s designed by Ivanka Trump and you, like I, despise and loathe the Donald?

Liar.  Bigot. A misogynistic prick. These are a few choice words that come to mind when I think of the man who could very well start WWIII with one stupid tweet sent while he sits on his porcelain throne at 3am. So what does he have to do with shoes and Ivanka?

Have you ever bought one of his ties? Or watched The Apprentice? Or enjoyed watching Miss America? Who among us Donald-Despisers hasn’t at least once been a consumer (and maybe remains) of his now deeply tainted paraphernalia, be it reality TV or his China-made ties?  Must we now draw the line where we didn’t before on what we consume because we now know too much? Because we’ve seen his true colors? Because as human beings we tend to change our consumer habits based off new information, even though before our enlightenment, we were perfectly fine with our consumer habits?  Maybe we were ignorant or maybe we were choosing to let it slide.

I recently came face to face with a moral dilemma relating to this small hands man and his now more-than-ever spotlighted daughter.  I had trouble deciding what to do and it stopped me in my tracks, literally, in the shoe aisle of Nordstrom Rack, somewhere between buying the perfect shoe and tossing it back on the shelf.

For the most part, I try to be a mindful consumer.  I look for “Made in the USA.” I enjoy locally grown food.  I steer clear of Walmart at all costs.  I prefer to work for companies that prioritize social good. But it’s not all that cut and dry when it comes to consumerism nowadays.  Mindful consumerism is a real debacle, especially when we did deeper and research the company behind the design, and even more so the designer behind the design. Yikes.

After spending over an hour at Nordstrom Rack ransacking the aisles for the perfect pair of silver stilettos for a wedding only three days away (I’m a pro at procrastinating), my eyes began to wander because I was coming up empty-handed. (Let’s be honest, it was taking all of my strength not to look at the other shoes anyway.)  I set off to find another pair of non-wedding-related-shoes, because when you love shoes, you love shoes and you gotta have more shoes.

As a self-proclaimed shoe consumer extraordinaire, shoes are my thing.  I love shopping for them. I love trying them on. I love looking at them.  I love talking about them and showing them off.  I share shoe shopping secrets with friends. They’re a hobby, a passion and a necessity.

There’s  just something about a pair of high-heels that gives me the confidence, composure and courage to be my best, beautiful, several-inches-taller self.   Marilyn Monroe was spot-on when she said, “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can rule the world.” Because she can.  And we do.  Shoes hold special powers.

When I fall in love with a pair of shoes, whether or not I was officially shoe shopping to begin with (my brain never turns off its shoe-shopping mechanism), there’s not much that can stop me, save for the price or a blatant call-out to the brand on the shoe itself.  I don’t care about brand names and I don’t like to flaunt the brand. It’s more about how I feel about the shoes and what it represents for me personally.

Even so, with the hundreds (of thousands) of shoes I’ve tried on and nearly bought and have bought, it’s actually fairly rare that I step into a pair I adore from the get-go, that also fits my foot perfectly, feels comfortable and is gorgeously designed.  It’s the trifecta of shoe-shopping: perfect fit, comfortable and gorgeous.

It doesn’t happen often, and when it does any price inhibitions could be serendipitously flung out the window, just like that pair of old clogs all of us shoe lovers have procrastinated on donating.  This visit to Nordstrom Rack presented one such time.  It was a pair I had been eyeing since the beginning of my fruitless journey (curse you silver stiletto!).

Ivanka Trump shoes

The shoes in question. I took this photo upside down with a low battery, so it’s a bit blurry.

It was love at first sight (which happens more often with shoes than men — any woman will admit to this).  Thick ankle strap (the technical term). Flower prints. Not too tall, not too short.  I slipped them on and instantly fell in love.

I pranced to the floor mirror and gazed upon the magnificence that is the perfect fit and blissfully thought, this is the pair of shoes I have waited to find all my shoe-shopping, stiletto-sashaying life, since I was in the third grade and chose my first pair of shiny white, half-inch heels, worn with lace ankle socks for my First Communion.

A little dramatic, but the next part seriously happened.

When my eyes dropped to my feet in the mirror, images of the shoe-swaggering women of Sex and the City, Legally Blonde, and every other shoe-stopping lady I had admired for style, flashed across my mind. It was the pair of shoes I had been looking for all my life and I didn’t even know it.  Like Mr. Right!  Aaaand they were on clearance.

Not bad for the shoes that were meant to be.

Slipping each one-off, I grabbed the box, giddy with delight. But as I looked down at the shoe in my hand, horror-struck deep within me. My eyes widened.  I thought, I may not be taking this pretty pair home after all.

The words Ivanka Trump were printed in gold letters across the sole of my precious playmates. I screamed in my head “Nooooooo!”  Then: Eh who cares. They’re shoes.  Then, I realized the power of those words.  The power they held for me personally.

I grabbed my phone, which was about to die (what else is new?), snapped a photo and posted to Facebook:

Screenshot 2016-08-08 23.31.52

I was half serious and half just posting for fun to see what my friends would say.

I slipped back into them, walked around and browsed other shoes. Might as well make sure they’re truly comfortable. I checked Facebook to see a slew of comments streaming in.

Friend #1: “Well, she’s not married to him, had to sign his NDA, and took a lot of his money, so you may be safe.”

Me: “Hmm interesting point. Also they’re not coming straight from the source…. they’re on clearance…”

I began to feel better. He’s right. They’re not the same person. But the comments continued and perspectives flooded my feed.

Friend #2 commented about how the Trump brand is bad for business and to send a message with my consumer dollars. And are they made in China?

Getting into the thick of it now. My response is, everything is made in China!

Friend #3: There is no ethical consumption under capitalism. Buy those shoes.

Friend #4: Buy them. She, of all the children, spoke the most eloquently of her dad AND she’s friends with Chelsea.

Friend #5: Buy them, then I won’t be the only one with Trump stuff….. I bought mine in 2011 though, before I knew…

Friend #6: I  Ivanka… She’s not her dad… At all

Friend #7: Buy them. Shoes and politics never should meet.

Friend #7’s comment stopped me.  It was the kind of funny, smart response I would normally coin myself.  This isn’t about taking a stand.  This is a pair of shoes for crying out loud! A great-fitting, adorable, perfect pair of shoes!  Why was I getting all worked up? Why suddenly did I care about the designer behind the shoe? Her name wasn’t even visible to anyone but me.

My anxiety took hold. My mind whirled.  I decided to sit down and research Ivanka’s brand — even with a phone battery power of only 15%.

So far I liked what I was seeing. She wanted to create a shoe style for all women — career women, nurturing women, mothers etc.  Sounds like she puts thought into her brand and her design. She’s catering to women’s shoe needs (no wonder they’re so perfect!). Okay, I like this, I like this.  But where are they made? China! Of course it’s China.

What about the NDA? She not only had to sign it, she’s also listed on it! How does that even work? Seems like a conflict of interest…

I snapped back to reality and yelled in my head, Why did I suddenly care? How many other shoes had I bought that represented brands with similar foreign ties?  How many shirts are currently hanging in my closet crafted by poor little children, hanging off of plastic hangers also crafted by poor little children?  What about Nordstrom Rack itself? They couldn’t be so high and mighty. And Ivanka Trump? I didn’t even really know — or care — about her until recently. Do I even care about her now?

Thoughts strutted through my mind: Should I research Ivanka more? Should I even associate her with her dad? What does her brand stand for? Is she a good person? 

If it wasn’t for this election would I even be having this argument with myself?

It’s all so preposterous! I could have chalked up my reaction to anxiety, but my friends were having the same conundrum. Friends who aren’t even shoe lovers. But they know I am.

Friend #8: Don’t do it LOL. (He then proceeded to tell me about how he’s thinking of boycotting Fox Studio films due to his feelings towards Fox News.)

Friend #9: I wouldn’t buy them. Bad karma.

Friend #10: Not buy them! They were probably made by poor workers over seas.

What was happening? I expected more voices of reason, but my friends were split. I had hoped people would laugh it off and tell me my anxiety was getting the best of me, but they were obsessed all because of the name Trump! Or they were on the other side, embracing their freedom to damn well buy a pair of shoes, because why not?  It shouldn’t be political. They’re shoes. Ignorance is bliss!

My thoughts raced as I tried to distract myself by other shoes.
Ivanka is not her father.
Is she guilty by association?
Well, kind of, especially since her company is in association with the Trump enterprise.

I walked through the aisles desperately searching for another pair of shoes that I could fall in love with.  One after another, Ivanka’s design caught my attention.  Uncanny. This woman had my number. She knows what she’s doing.  She knows what I want. It’s like she’s designed these shoes specifically for me. Never before in my entire life has this happened. With anything. Why did it have to be shoes? Why????

What do we really know about Ivanka? She speaks eloquently about her father — but she is under legal obligation to only say nice things publicly (ahem, NDA).  Can we trust her? Mmmm… we want to trust her because we love her shoes.  She is friends with Chelsea Clinton, and depending on who you ask this could be a positive or negative.
She has style.
She makes a comfy, gorgeous shoe.
She has a pretty name.
She doesn’t appear to be Satan’s right hand.
She makes a comfy, gorgeous shoe.
I like her style.
She makes a comfy, gorgeous shoe… ugh.

Then enter my cousin’s comment, which I believe to be the best reaction:

Buy them so you can be walking all over their “name” lol.

When you put it that way…. but did Ivanka deserve to have her name walked all over?  Does she deserve to be lumped in with her father?

My mind continued to race until I got home and realized the sole message behind all this: no matter what we buy, where we buy it, for whatever reason, we are and forever will be sending a message with our purchasing habits. Every purchase says something about ourselves, even when we have zero intentions of doing so.

I had to decide for myself, do I take a conscious stand against the Trump name by not purchasing the perfect shoes out of principle (because no one would even know the difference — her name isn’t even visible when the freakin’ shoes is on my foot!), or do I simply purchase a pair of shoes I adore, because I love shoes?  They aren’t just any pair. They’re thee pair.  Or would I resent them, feeling less empowered when I wore them simply because I now knew too much? I had done my research because it was important to me and shoes are my passion, and now I had to live with the consequences.

Even my friends, many of whom probably couldn’t care less about a pair of high heels, were passionately defending their opinions on the matter. From all angles. These shoes stood for something. We made the choice to let them stand for something. All the other things in our life? How many of us are living out our comments across the board?

What about all the other Made in China products? How many of us are seeking out Made in the USA? Or boycotting Fox Studio’s productions?  I should probably tell my friend that Fox owns other companies, like National Geographic. Would he boycott them, too?

When do we decide to stop toeing the line? Literally.

In the end I didn’t buy the shoes. I walked out with another pair I loved, designed by Sam Edelman. Their website made their view points on human trafficking and slavery easily accessible — a document that’s no where in sight on Ivanka’s. Whether Sam Edelman produces shoes through ethically sound ways as the document states, we won’t know until someone digs up the truth. If it turns out their factories and companies aren’t abiding by the legal document on their website, are they worse than Ivanka whose website doesn’t state anything at all?

Turns out the next day I would have my answers about Ivanka’s own principles.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed I came across this headline, as if it had been planted there by Jesus Christ himself, giving me my answer:

Screenshot 2016-08-08 23.42.19

My jaw dropped as I read the article describing how Ivanka’s words at the RNC about mother’s needs, the superfluous descriptions on her website showcasing her support for working women, and the various interviews in which she stated her commitment to #WomenWhoWork were thinly veiled with dishonesty. Paid maternity leave for first and second and third time mothers, while a largely unrecognized necessity in United States, should at least be upheld up by a company that prides itself in catering to mothers and working women everywhere.

Ivanka’s talking the talk, but is she walking the walk? Maybe she’ll trip and fall and…. okay, bad, bad, bad! She would never trip in her shoes anyway, they’re the perfect height and fit.  Curse them.

Friend #11: I feel if we look into almost any company that sells junk, we can find enough reason to not buy their products. So who cares if you buy something or not. The other option is living in the mountains or something. Lol

Friend #11 is scary spot-on, however let’s take it a step further.  We must demand more of the companies we work for and purchase products from. Just because they can get away with it doesn’t mean they should.  In the end, it’s up to us to make change, otherwise nothing will change, like the women who are boycotting Ivanka’s design with the hashtag #GrabYourWallet.

Are all my shoes free and clear? Probably not, but I will sashay tall and proud in my less than perfect shoes, knowing where I stand, which apparently is the opposite of what my fellow Millenials are doing in regards to Ivanka’s brand.

Well, to each her own, but for me, my ethics trump Trump.

Keep meandering,
Marianna

 

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