[Each scarf she wore] was incorporated into the day's wardrobe. One hesitates to say that she accessorized her ensembles with the scarves because that makes it sound as though their significance can be equated with a pair of earrings or a strand of pearls. They were more meaningful than that. They allowed her to be respectful of the day's hosts while maintaining her own public identity. She looked like herself and she maintained control of the visual message.It's an awkward comparison. Pelosi got to choose -- not only to go where she did, but also to comply with the clothing requirements with her own things. The British sailors were, obviously, far more constrained. Fawning over Pelosi is bad enough. Of course, this rich woman who has long had an interest in fashion picked really nice scarves when she had to wear a scarf. But dragging in the sailors to load more praise on Pelosi looks really.... shabby.
There are few images more discomforting than public figures thrust into foreign cultures and required to wear the host's traditional attire. Almost without exception the visitors tend to look smaller and more vulnerable. They evoke the uneasiness of children who have been dressed by a parent, teacher, minister or other authority figure....
When the recently released British detainees were trotted in front of the media in Iran, the men were not in the uniform of their country, which would have been a reminder of their international stature, but rather in look-alike shabby suits and no ties. They were dressed in the image of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Western mufti was appropriated and served as a stand-in for an emasculating uniform, making the seamen appear small and uncertain. The lone woman looked like she had been overpowered by someone else's cultural traditions.
Pelosi, with her carefully coordinated scarves, respected her foreign surroundings without ceding any control.
April 6, 2007
Naturally, Robin Givhan must do an essay on what Nancy Pelosi wore in Syria and what the Iranians made the British sailors wear, and just as naturally, I must blog about it: