Democratic senator from Arizona Kyrsten Sinema leaves the Capitol on May 11, 2020. / Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock.
By Nancy McKeon
WE KNOW about virtue signaling, all those little tells that are supposed to convince people of our superior moral character.
What I want to know is, Is Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s bizarre toilette supposed to be “maverick signaling” or just “me-me-me signaling”?
We get it: The Arizona Democrat dresses the way no other person, male or female, in the US Senate or House of Representatives does. Green wigs, pink wigs, halter dresses in July, bandage dresses, silvery glitter dresses in the morning, hot pink mixed with orange (pretty cool, actually), every muscle and bulge on display (although I have to say, the result does not seem particularly sexual or sexually attractive).
Finally, Vanessa Friedman, the chief fashion critic of the New York Times, has focused her sights on La Sinema. The results are not conclusive, but the story is definitely worth a read. Here ’tis:
Decoding Kyrsten Sinema’s Style
Sometimes a dress is just a dress. Sometimes it’s a strategy.
Photo by Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema may have been in Europe recently on a fund-raising trip and out of reach of the activists who have dogged her footsteps, frustrated with her obstruction of President Biden’s social spending bill. But despite the fact her office has been keeping her itinerary under wraps, were those protesters able to follow her overseas, there’s a good chance they would be able to find her.
Not just because of her political theater. Ever since she was sworn in to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2005, Ms. Sinema has always stood out in a crowd. And as Ms. Sinema’s legislative demands take center stage (along with those of Senator Joe Manchin, the other Biden Bill holdout) her history of idiosyncratic outfits has taken on a new cast.
As Tammy Haddad, former MSNBC political director and co-founder of the White House Correspondents Weekend Insider, said of the senator, “If the other members of Congress had paid any attention to her clothing at all they would have known she wasn’t going to just follow the party line.”
The senior senator from Arizona — the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate, the first Democrat elected to that body from that state since 1995, and the first openly bisexual senator — has never hidden her identity as a maverick. In fact, she’s advertised it. Pretty much every day.
Indeed, it was back in 2013, when she was sworn in to the House of Representatives, that Elle crowned Ms. Sinema “America’s Most Colorful Congresswoman.” Since she joined the Senate, she has merely been further embracing that term. Often literally.
Notice was served at her swearing-in on Jan. 3, 2019, when Ms. Sinema seemed to be channeling Marilyn Monroe in platinum blond curls, a white sleeveless pearl-trimmed top, rose-print pencil skirt and stiletto heels: She was never going to revert to pantsuit-wearing banality.