This week the congressional orientation started in Washington, D.C., bringing together newly-elected members of the historic 116th Congress, including first Indigenous women and first Muslim women elected to Congress, first Latinas representing Texas, first openly bisexual woman representing California, first Black women to represent Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the first Ecuadorean-American in the House. And despite the massive impact these women have already made via their electoral victories alone, one particular journalist is worried about what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore to work.
On Thursday, Eddie Scary, who writes for the Washington Examiner, tweeted a photograph of the 29-year-old Democratic congresswoman-elect (of New York's 14th district) from behind, writing "Hill staffer sent me this pic of Ocasio-Cortez they took just now. I’ll tell you something: that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles." It didn't take long for Scary to delete the tweet, claiming his words had been misinterpreted.
The "struggle" Scary is referring to in his tweet is, presumably, Ocasio-Cortez's admission to the New York Times she's been "squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January," because she won't be able to afford an apartment in Washington D.C. until her new salary kicks in. Ocasio-Cortez responded to Scary's tweet, "If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh & take a picture of my backside." She continued: "If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh [and] take a picture of my backside. Dark hates light - that’s why you tune it out. Shine bright [and] keep it pushing." She kept Scary on notice after he deleted his tweet, too, writing, "Oh, does [Scary] think he can delete his misogyny without an apology? I don’t think so. You’re a journalist - readers should know your bias."
This is just the latest attempt to discredit her authenticity. Over the summer, Vanity Fair profiled Ocasio-Cortez, who was styled in a fitted suit and Manolo Blahniks heels. The complete look totaled $3,500, and conservatives erupted in criticism on Twitter. Once again, Ocasio-Cortez took to the internet to clear her name, pointing out that because it was a photoshoot for a magazine, a stylist pulled the pricey clothing and she did not keep any of the items.
Attacking someone on perceived class signifiers isn't smart for a variety of reasons. They're not truly indicative of financial standing; what's more, just because Ocasio-Cortez can't currently afford a D.C. apartment doesn't mean she's not a smart, savvy shopper. You don't have to spend a ton of money to look good.