“Are you prepared for people to say mean things?” my BFF of 25 years asks. I’m about to walk out our hotel room door wearing a black sequined formal gown. It has a long train, an open back, and near illegal slits at both thighs. It also has huge gold lettering that says FUCK TRUMP from breast to floor.
I’ve paired it with four inch platform combat boots and a black leather baseball cap I’m wearing backwards. It’s 8:00 in the morning. I won’t be blending in. “Yes,” I reply.
We’re going to the Women’s March in Los Angeles. I’d been debating wearing this dress for weeks. It was an impulse buy.
Days after the election I’d seen a photo of the dress online. It was designed by a Project Runway contestant named Rey Ortiz. A gay man with activist leanings, he’d shown the dress on a runway in Austin, Texas before the elections. A picture of it went viral. I emailed him to say how much I wanted his dress.
“I can’t afford couture,” I write. I tell him of my desire to “be loud,” describing a germ of an idea to use the dress as a gathering point for people who felt like me. Angry people who wanted to be loud.
“I want to wear it to the women’s march” I say. “I like it” Rey writes. Days later the dress came in the mail.
I wake up hours early the morning of the march. I’m agitated and sick to my stomach. I’m putting myself directly in the middle of the ugliness that’s been spewed by Trump and his supporters for months. My plan to meet that ugliness just as directly is becoming scarier the closer it gets to show time.
March organizers had been advertising the march as “inclusive.” Stating often that it was “not anti-Trump.” My take on that is we’re playing up to people like Trump. People who think anger is ugly on women and reserved for men. We’re being too nice. If Trump were not a powerful man with decades of statements reflecting his perceived entitlement to women’s bodies there wouldn’t be a march. We are anti-Trump and there is value in being angry.
Donald Trump has made his disdain for women who don’t meet his standards of beauty crystal clear. He believes the worst insult he can hurl at a female candidate is to say she’s ugly. He has stated that women who get abortions should be “punished” but the men who get them pregnant should not. He wants to defund poor women’s access to STD screens. If not for that there would be no women’s march.
I wasn’t marching to bring people together. I was marching to say Fuck Trump. To say if you’re willing to overlook his horrifically sexist, xenophobic, homophobic beliefs and behaviors, then fuck you too.
I wasn’t marching to build bridges with people who think a man who called Rosie O’ Donnell “degenerate” because she’s a lesbian is fit to be president. I don’t want to build bridges with people who would paint a broad picture of Mexican nationals as “bad hombres” or think being Muslim means being terrorist.
I’m an angry woman. I was marching to express my anger. Theoretically the women’s march and its participants should be my peeps. I wasn’t sure. And I was scared.
All the same, out the hotel room door we go.
Our room is literally next to the elevator yet the walk to the elevator door felt long. A thirty-something white man joins us for the wait. He’s dressed for work, a well-worn computer bag over his shoulder. He’s noticed the dress and his face is unreadable. The elevator door opens on a young couple. Their faces go blank as they register what the dress says.
The potential for conflict makes my nerves go away. “Let’s do this,” I think.
The man going to work looks at me. “I love your dress” he says with a grin. The couple smile at me conspiratorially. The elevator doors open on the lobby.
Starting in the lobby and through the end of the march, hundreds of people stopped for pictures with the dress. Every waiter at breakfast, talking to each other in excited Spanish, wanted a picture. When our bill came it just has two coffees on it. A group of large, heavily tattooed young men took pictures and gave me thumbs up. A black man went live on Facebook with me and the dress. A boy around ten told me I looked like a superhero. I felt like one.
The overwhelming support crossed many of the lines we’ve drawn around the human race.
Construction workers, young black women, old white men, and a bevy of sex workers. They all loved the dress. More people than I can count said “thank you.” To me. A fifty three year old white woman of privilege wearing a FUCK TRUMP dress at an event marketed to spread the love. Like me, they are angry.
I saw a lot of media on the march. The overall focus was the “love trumps hate” message. I heard little mention of the anger fueling the march. But anger is why I was there, and why hundreds of people loved the dress.
It is gravely important to stay angry at the basic truth of Donald Trump’s lack of humanity and tolerance. At his sexism, and bigotry. To not allow the bigotry that fuels him to become normalized in attempts to be inclusive or conciliatory.
Being conciliatory has its place. It doesn’t happen to be my skill. I will leave it to the natural politicians. Instead I will give voice to the anger. The very appropriate anger.
The dream is to see the dress become its own movement. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pictures of it at same sex weddings, performing on stage, walking a protest line. Keeping the focus on our right to feel the way we do and our right to express it how we deem fit.
By Kelly Kelly: Follow Kelly @fucktrumpdress #fucktrumpdress.