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October 25 2016

Does Ivanka Trump’s Clothing Line Need a Trigger Warning?

Patrice L. Onwuka

Protesting a brand because of a scandal or faux pas by the founder or spokesperson is common these days. Live Strong, Martha Stewart, and Subway are just a few brands that suffered when the people who served as the face of their operations landed in hot water (or worse) for an indiscretion or illegal activity.

Now, the Ivanka Trump's women’s wear brand is the public target of a social media campaign.  Despite having enjoyed admiration and respect among women and men of all ages for her poise, business savvy, and ability to balance career with motherhood, Ivanka Trump’s likeability is taking a one-two-punch because of her father’s campaign and his past comments about women.

After the release of the infamous video of comments about grabbing women, Ivanka called her father’s comments “inappropriate and offensive” but chose to continue to support him--that irked a San Francisco digital strategist, prompting her to launch a campaign to take Ivanka down.

Shannon Coulter called on Americans to boycott Ivanka Trump’s estimated $100 million clothing and accessories line, creating the hashtag #GrabYourWallet as a call to action according to The Guardian:

“It was a feeling of recoiling. It was emotional, visceral. Then I had a pounding headache for a few days. I was filled with nausea,” said the technology and media marketing specialist based in the Bay Area.

For Coulter, it’s unacceptable that Ivanka Trump continues to support her father, despite mounting evidence that he denigrates women. “If Ivanka Trump had distanced herself from the campaign I would not be boycotting her. But something changed for me when that tape was released,” she said.

Not only is she rallying shoppers online to boycott the clothing line, she is calling on retailers that stock Ivanka’s clothing line, including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Amazon, Lord & Taylor, Marshalls, and Zappos to stop selling the items. Shoppers are now boycotting those stores until they remove the clothing line.

Apparently, the Ivanka Trump label should now carry a trigger warning, given the way one shopper reacted to seeing an Ivanka blouse at T.J. Maxx:

Another woman, 29-year-old Lindsey Ledford, recounted to Cosmopolitan the story of a recent shopping trip to one of her favorite stores, T.J. Maxx, which sells products from the Ivanka Trump line. While examining a blouse she was considering purchasing, she spotted the Ivanka Trump label, and it triggered a severe visceral reaction because it brought to mind past personal incidents of physical abuse and sexual assault. “Suddenly, she felt like her throat was closing and she couldn’t breathe,” according to Cosmopolitan. “My first thought was, ‘Grab them by the p***y. We can do anything we want. Don’t even ask,’” she told the publication, echoing Donald’s vulgar dialogue from the leaked tape. “[Ivanka] is supporting one of the most offensive, sexist, racist, xenophobic human beings to ever run for president,” Ledford continued. “She is making a buck off it.”

Coulter’s motives (perhaps like the 29-year-old T.J. Maxx shopper) are telling:

If she were not campaigning for Donald Trump, I would be very happy for her business and proud of her success. But I think she is being used to whitewash the candidate and make him more palatable,” Coulter said.

It’s hard to believe that targeting Ivanka is not just a political tactic. Female shoppers are a powerhouse making most of the spending decisions of American households. A boycott en masse of brand like the Ivanka Trump brand could spell serious trouble--and send a signal about taking political stands that differ from the progressive cultural mainstream.

Shoppers have every right to boycott brands if the founder or spokespeople tarnishes the brand. However, this seems to be a case of shaming dissenting opinions.   

Ivanka is the same mom and boss who employs lots of women whom women – including Coulter – have always admired. It seems the difference now is the political season and the side of the aisle she stands on.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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