One year after dressing in all black to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and the #TIMESUP movement, the ladies of the House and Senate are making another stand with their choice of attire. These photos of women wearing white at the 2019 State of the Union are pretty empowering, because the hue caries a special meaning for the evening. According to the House Democratic Women's Working Group, the color white is meant to represent suffrage and solidarity with the women who led the way for more female representation in Congress, which is something I think we can all get behind.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, the country turned its gaze to President Trump as he delivered an address that focused on the economy and immigration. Leading up to the big event, there was quite a bit of anticipation about what the president would say just days after the longest partial government shutdown in history came to an end, as well as Congress' response to it. Stacey Abrams, who lost to Republican opponent Brian Kemp in the 2018 midterms amidst allegations of voter suppression, is scheduled to give an official rebuttal to the president's remarks, but the other women of the Congress also made sure that they sent a loud and clear message with their choice of clothing for the evening address.
Everyone from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nancy Pelosi to Kimberly Guilfoyle and Tiffany Trump was spotted wearing various versions of white, showing that the underlying message of the gesture went across party lines.
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, which was when the State of the Union was originally scheduled to occur, Florida Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel spoke to CNN about the meaning behind the white-out.
The chair of the House Democratic Women's Working Group told the publication:
Wearing suffragette white is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country, and a declaration that we will not go back on our hard-earned rights.
Wearing white also celebrates a century since the Women's Suffrage Movement and the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The celebration is particularly timely, as the 2018 midterms saw 42 women elected as new members of Congress to make it its most diverse group yet.
Among the historic group were quite a few firsts, including the first Native American congresswomen Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) and Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), the first Muslim congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), and the youngest woman to be elected to Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York).
Wearing white on Feb. 5 was a celebration of how far we've come, but also recognition of the journey ahead to continue fighting for gender parity. Women from both parties were invited to wear the hue in solidarity, and Tiffany Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle both dressed in white to show their support for the movement.
One person who didn't seem to get the memo? First lady Melania Trump, who opted to wear black for the event. However, it wasn't much of a surprise, considering that she chose to don an ivory pantsuit during the 2018 State of the Union address — a contrast to women of Congress who'd worn black in solidarity with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements protesting sexual assault.
TBH, though, white or no white, just seeing a room filled with Congress's most diverse group of elected officials yet is enough to make me feel hopeful for the future.