Jackie Kennedy: Women's Lib Predecessor Essay

1794 words - 8 pages

Jacqueline Kennedy's fashion influence the news story as often as public addresses of the President. “All the talk over what I wear and how I fix my hair has amused me and puzzled me. What does my hairdo have to do with my husband's ability to be President?" (Perry 60). Jacqueline Kennedy’s question was one that needed addressing because for a little over a century American First Ladies’ fashions were constantly being critiqued on a celebrity-like status. First Lady Mary Lincoln also worried about her appearance was recorded telling her seamstress that she felt the public was her greatest critic (Weinham 1). Jacqueline Kennedy’s question proved that the conundrum persisted through to the twentieth century. With Mrs. Kennedy’s logic, political actions on the president’s behalf should have been the only concern the American public had with their First Lady,but the role of First Lady held unwritten conditions. An astounding $300,000,000 was given by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union to John Kennedy’s presidential campaign to ensure that Jacqueline Kennedy would “buy American” (Perry 58). Even though this is rare case of her fashion’s effect on JFK’s presidential campaigning, her choice in shoes was a miniscule factor to the grand scheme of his election into office.Unbeknownst to Jacqueline Kennedy before her husband’s office, her appearance would have little to do with her “husband’s ability to be president,” but rather, her own ability to embody the ever-evolving American Woman as First Lady of the United States.Jacqueline Kennedy's striking fashion reflected the Women's Liberation Movement with demanding colors, attention, and respect, structured suits and blueprints, and adaptable colloquial outfits and confident attitude, systematically declaring female independence through style choice.
Embodying the American Woman was a difficult task for anyone to approach, male or female. America, being the melting pot of the world, consisted of a plethora of diverse social traditions for the woman. The First Lady’s role as a female leader inadvertently determined how the world viewed the typical American woman; therefore,if the First Lady gave a likeable exhibit of the American woman internationally, the typical American woman would be bound to adopt the First Lady’s demeanor to keep up the typified facade. This kind of charisma gave First Ladies the power to shape new generations of females and their roles in society.
To become the face of a new generations, a leader or role model must be the answer to the yearning of a generation. The generation of women that was growing up during Jacqueline’s time in the White House were yearning for the feminist ideal to be popularized. After the 19th amendment’s passing, women’s rights died out which brought women back to a submissive role to men, but with the right to vote. The definition of feminism is “the theory of political, social and economic equality of the sexes”...

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