What Message Is Ivanka Trump Trying To Send With This Handmaid’s Tale Dress?

Photo: Doug Mills/Getty Images.
On Thursday, Ivanka Trump hit up one of her usual haunts, the Oval Office, to witness the signing of a new technology bill. As the Trump family does little without the presence of a camera, Ivanka posed ever so stiffly for a photo that invited immediate comparisons to another authoritarian regime. She wore a teal pussy-bow dress in the same shade and silhouette as those worn by the wives of commanders in Gilead, the fictional dystopian version of the United States that exists in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name. 
Soon after Ivanka posted the photo on her personal Instagram, Diet Prada followed suit, though the notorious fashion canceller didn’t stop at just that one photo. They added a selection of comparison images that portrayed just how eerily close in style and color Ivanka’s dress was to those worn by the show’s star wife Serena Joy Waterford (Yvonne Strahovski). Diet Prada even went as far as to describe the shade as “Gilead blue.” 
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The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in a zealously conservative and religious regime where powerful men called commanders control everything: women, reproduction, the food supply, thought, capital punishment, religion, and more. Commanders are assigned handmaids to bear their children; they rarely reproduce with their wives due to infertility (which is always blamed on the woman). Handmaids, clad in fiery red, represent sinful carnality and impersonal breeding vessels, who bring children into the world through ritualised rape ceremonies. Serena Joy is married to Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes), one of the most prominent leaders in Gilead. She wields his status like a weapon, especially because she also had a hand in crafting the regime. Serena Joy was once a well-regarded public speaker. Now, she’s relegated to the domestic sphere, cooing over other wives’ babies as she yearns for her own.
It’s debatable whether Serena Joy has truly realised the error of her — and Gilead’s — ways in later seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, but she’s curried far more viewers’ favour than Ivanka has in the real world. “Unlike The Handmaid’s Tale, there are no writers that can offer Ivanka a redemption arc like they gave Serena Joy, the anti-feminist First Lady of Gilead who came to represent cowardice and complicity,” Diet Prada captioned the Instagram slideshow. 
Unfortunately, while the similarities between the two dresses are certainly apparent to anyone who’s watched the show, it’s unlikely that Ivanka gave the outfit a second thought. According to Footwear News, this isn’t even the first time she’s worn the long-sleeved, ankle-length dress. She first debuted it in September at an election event in Pennsylvania. Though the First Daughter and apple of her dad’s eye probably wasn’t trying to conjure thoughts of Gilead, we’ll accept Diet Prada’s comparisons. The damage her father has done during his administration is a chilling reminder of Gilead’s controlling regime. But, blessed be the fruit, Trump’s reign will be over in a month, and we will no longer be under his eye. 

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