Is There a Symbolic Meaning Behind Dr. Blasey Ford’s Blue Suit?
Ahead of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony on Thursday, where she gave a detailed account of the alleged sexual assault she endured at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teenagers, Anita Hill was the name on the tip of everyone's tongue.
In 1991, the then-35-year-old attorney came forward with her own story of workplace harassment from her boss, Clarence Thomas. Despite her testimony, Thomas was confirmed. While there are countless moments that stand out from that hearing, the image seared into everyone's minds is a powerful one: Hill, clad in a polished blue suit, raising her right hand as she is sworn in.
In her opening statement, ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recalled walking through the airport 27 years ago and witnessing "an attractive woman in a blue suit, before an all-male Judiciary Committee. … She was treated badly."
In the various adaptations of Hill's story, including the 2016 HBO movie Confirmation starring Kerry Washington, great care was taken to replicate Hill's suit to a T.
Washington told The Hollywood Reporter of the iconic look, "I remember my breath leaving me — like gasping for breath when I saw it. Because I had watched hours and hours of footage of her in that suit and had spent so much time poring over pictures and video and audio recordings of that day."
She added, "The suit really felt like armor. We even re-created the exact earrings and the exact necklace Anita had, and it all helped me to step into the truth of the moment."
VIDEO: Right Now: Ford Kavanaugh Senate Hearing
With so many think pieces devoted to assessing the similarities (and many, many differences) between the two women and their testimonies, it's hard to imagine that Ford didn't think back on that moment in 1991. So, we wondered, could her blue suit — though a thoroughly modern, dark navy version — be at least a subtle nod to Hill, who paved the way for Ford and so many other victims of harassment and assault?
We'll never know exactly what was going through Ford's mind while choosing her ensemble, but the idea of a suit as "armor" is not a new one. Like trailblazing women before her — from Hill to Hillary Clinton — women have reached for suits of all kinds to project confidence and power.
Though she ultimately opted for blue, black would have also been an appropriate color choice for the hearing given its growing symbolism. The hue has been closely tied to the #MeToo movement, especially following last year's Golden Globes "blackout," when founding members of the Time's Up movement encouraged guests wear black as a show of solidarity with survivors of harassment and assault.
Additionally, participants in Monday's #BelieveSurvivors walkout — organized in support of Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who also came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh — were encouraged to wear black.