How Louise Linton is perpetuating white supremacy with her fashion and Instagram

Accompanying her new husband Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on a business trip on Monday, Louise Linton dressed to impress. She wore #rolandmouret pants with #tomford sunnies, an #hermesscarf and #valentinorockstudheels. She also carried a white Birkin bag, which retails for $12,000 to $200,000 depending on the style.

The actress, who wed the former hedge funder in June, shared the details of her #ootd in an Instagram photo that showed her disembarking from a military plane. In addition to the fashion credits, she shared in the caption, “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside.”

A screenshot of Louise Linton’s since deleted Instagram post. (Photo: @louiselinton/Instagram)

In response to the image, a commenter, Jenni M., wrote, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable”

To this, Linton — who heads up her own independent film production company and has had a number of small TV and film roles — sent a reply directly to @Jennimiller29: 

cute!….Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day “trip” than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”

The social media post is being heralded as the latest “let them eat cake” moment (a phrase commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette, a royal Linton, funny enough, has portrayed onscreen) to besiege the Trump administration. This comes a few months after first daughter Ivanka Trump shared a picture of herself in a ball gown as rioters took to the streets in response to her father’s travel ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States.

Like the incident involving the former fashion designer and current special advisor to the president, Linton’s controversial Instagram speaks to the off-balance class division that, ironically, was an essential theme of President Donald Trump’s campaign. 

And, according to Juliet Williams, PhD, a professor of gender studies and the chair of the social sciences interdepartmental program at the University of California-Los Angeles, the unapologetic celebration of the emblems of the contemporary princess — which would be things like diamonds and Louis Vuitton — is essentially perpetuating white supremacy.

“Playfully wearing these designer bags and fancy jewelry and getting dressed up like a Kardashian — which now, women really defend their right to be able to do — and having cell phone cases crusted with fake jewels and the little princess-ificaiton of little girl life — these things are all undertaken as if they are all very innocent and just fun, but it’s just part of a whole worldview that is incredibly selfish, incredibly self-indulgent, and inextricably tied to the privilege power that is white privilege,” Williams says.

She continues, “It doesn’t look glamorous when you’re dressed up this way. It looks like you’re valorizing this worldview that is a truly ugly worldview. You can say that whether you’re a little girl wearing a Disney costume or a grown women bragging about her diamonds, it’s all an expression of an ideal of womanhood that is profoundly hierarchical and what it does is put the person who looks closest to the fictional ideal of Barbie at the top and puts everyone else underneath that. And that’s an ugly approach to humanity. And it’s not fun.”

This isn’t Linton’s first brush with a distinctly colonialist worldview as articulated in her own voice. Just last year, Britain’s the Daily Telegraph ran an excerpt of the 36-year old, Scottish-born Linton’s self-published memoir about her time spent volunteering in Zambia during her gap year before starting college in the United States. Scandal erupted almost immediately, as people took to social media with the hashtag #LintonLies to call out what many claim are major falsehoods and misrepresentations in the text. Her perpetuation of the racist stereotype that sees African people as cruel, violent, and downright inhumane — an image she presents in striking contrast to her own privileged, white self that she defines through a specific depiction of hyperfemininity — was also noted. 

So, the latest iteration of elitism from Linton in her since-deleted Instagram post, then, seemingly reinforces a power structure that equates the value of certain physical, aesthetic norms and cultural signaling through fashion with power, which is the essence of white supremacy. As such, white supremacy isn’t limited to explicit hate speech against minorities — it also appears in flaunting a certain presentation of wealth and beauty and sartorial goods that implicitly seeks to position those outside of a certain background or look as other, and as less than.

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