It is not often that foreign publications wade into the thicket of an American presidential election and accuse a candidate of misogyny and hate speech. It is even rarer for a foreign fashion magazine to do so. But for its July issue, the editor-in-chief of the Mexican and Latin American edition of Marie Claire has climbed atop her glossy soap box with a cover story directed at Ivanka Trump — and, obliquely, her father, the presumptive Republican nominee.
In bold cover type, the magazine pleads: “Dear Ivanka: How long will you defend your father?” And in a series of essays inside, its writers beg: Do something. Talk to him. Stop him.
Trump did not pose for the cover photograph. It is an artful collage that depicts her as a cross between a beauty queen and benevolent goddess with bare shoulders and glittering floral earrings. In the background, the Statue of Liberty peers over her shoulder, white stars explode against a blue sky and blush-colored peonies are in full bloom, nestled against her cheek.
There is nothing about the cover that speaks of harsh rhetoric. And while almost all the letters appeal to her position of clout within the Trump empire, there are no visual hints of her as a business person. Indeed, there is just enough fabric visible along her torso to assure readers that she isn’t actually naked.
But the letters inside are often filled with barely contained fury.
“It has never been my goal to attack, judge or question other women. Furthermore, when talking about polemic and controversial topics, generally I would rather stay neutral, with an objective point of view, and if I can’t make that happen, at least to be moderate,” writes editor Daniela Von Wobeser in her opening letter to readers. “I’d like to ask you, from the bottom of my heart, if supporting your dad’s strategy is the best thing for you, as woman or the best for your country and, consequently, mine.”
“Dear Ivanka, do you think your father would be the leader America deserves? Do you think the values your dad promotes are the ones you want. . . your three children” to inherit? Von Wobeser continues. “I understand no one chooses their parents, but sooner or later we have to understand that being a father does not excludes you from human degradation and, therefore, it’s [up to] us, their children, to [break] from them when [they] voluntarily choose that path, or. . . be doomed to live the same destiny.”
The issue includes letters from journalists, academics and artists, all of them Latin American, some of them living and working in the United States. They attempt to appeal to Trump as a mother, as a business woman, as an educated woman, as someone who, having converted to Judaism, might have particular insight into the history of religious persecution and how it festers and grows.
“I’m sure you’ve heard this abominable story of survival and horror countless times, possibly during your weekly shabbat dinners, or perhaps during Pesach (Jewish Easter), that you and your descendants must never forget,” writes Lorenza Amigo, who describes herself as a Mexican-born freelance writer and housewife living in Chicago. “Don’t you think that Trump’s comparison to Hitler, made several times in media, is enough to raise a red flag? Do you want to be part of this hate campaign, to be remembered in history as that hypocrite who preferred to overlook and allow such atrocity?”
Fashion magazines have long addressed social and cultural concerns within their own borders and even beyond them. Von Wobeser reminds her readers that one of the founders of Marie Claire France, which was first published in 1937, was involved in petitioning the Vatican to reconsider its stance on contraception. Helen Gurley Brown, who was editor of Cosmopolitan from 1965-1997, was instrumental in introducing blunt talk about sex and sexuality into women’s magazines. Glamour uses its annual Women of the Year awards and accompanying issue to consider the struggles faced and overcome by women around the world. And Elle and Vogue both delve into issues related to human rights and gender equality.
On the subject of national politics, however, fashion magazines tend to stick to writing admiringly about local candidates — or at least neutrally. Vogue editor Anna Wintour, for instance, has made no secret of her personal support for the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — but the magazine has also showcased Republican women — from Sarah Palin to Cindy McCain — through a flattering lens.
Partisanship, after all, can lose a magazine readers. But Trump — and outrage — may be good for circulation.
For the first time, this edition of Marie Claire has jumped into U.S. politics.
The magazine set its sights on Ivanka Trump, not simply because she has the ear of a candidate who has been antagonistic towards immigrants — particularly Mexicans — but also because of her independence.
“If your dad wins the elections (and I say this with fear in my words), you will be the closest thing America will have as a First Lady. I’m sure you have thought about it. We know Melania, your stepmother, hasn’t been an active member on your father’s campaign,” Von Wobeser writer. “If he gets to be the next president of the United States of America, you will most probably be the closest woman to him, just like you have been on the professional side”
The magazine makes no bones that it views Melania Trump as a “trophy” wife who serves at the whims of her husband. Thus, she is in no position to challenge him or his beliefs.
The letter writers’ emotions range from blunt anger to dismay to desperation. They are also taking a leap of faith. They are presuming that while Ivanka’s heart may be with her father, her head is nodding in agreement with them.