First lady Jill Biden recently wore a pair of playfully-patterned, fishnet-adjacent tights while deplaning Air Force One in Washington. This is not a scandal—but because the Biden White House does not tend to produce personal scandal, some conservative talking heads are trying to turn it into one.
Harkening back to the days of fashion-based non-controversies like President Obama’s tan suit and Michelle Obama’s arm-baring sleeveless shifts, various blowhards on Twitter shamed the first lady’s look as racy and “trashy,” likening her to Madonna and Cardi B (actually compliments, in my book), while others decried 71-year-old Dr. Biden as “too old” to be wearing intricate hose. Others sprung to her defense, saying she was rocking them, and hoping she had 30 more pairs in her closet. Last I checked, there is no age limit on having a little fun in fashion—just as President Biden rocks a dad jean. People all over the country are shrugging off the constraints of formal fashion in the pandemic: Why shouldn’t the first lady be one of them?
In fact, there isn’t much to see here. Dr. Biden simply took a refreshing break from chaste nude hose and expected pumps—Washington’s go-to footwear—with a pair of black ankle booties. But the feigned outrage over her accessories soon became a political flashpoint. “Melania” began trending on Twitter as, in a flawed and sexist defense of Biden’s stockings, people pointed to the fact that Mrs. Trump had posed nude in the past. That’s no reason to shame the former first lady—I prefer to stick to valid criticism of her hollow Be Best campaign and heartless “I Really Don’t Care Do U” jacket at the peak of the Trump administration’s family separation policy. “We can object to the performative outrage over Dr. Jill Biden’s tights without shaming women who pose nude,” attorney Elizabeth McLaughlin noted on Twitter.
Dr. Biden’s cheeky tights are in keeping with her spirit: For Valentine’s Day, Dr. Biden covered the White House lawn in paper hearts. At the virtual DNC, the Biden granddaughters revealed their grandma’s “mischievous” side, saying she’s been known to pick up a dead snake while on a run and “use it to scare someone.” On the very day she wore the now-famous “fishnets”—April Fool’s Day—the first lady pranked the White House press pool aboard Air Force One by disguising herself as a flight attendant and serving Dove ice cream bars. If unexpected hosiery is the biggest scandal of the moment—particularly after four years of Trumpian hellfire—I’ll take it as a sign that things are going well.