The Many Masks of Nancy Pelosi


Late last week, as she was leading the charge to push the Democrats’ $3 trillion pandemic relief package through the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi strode the floor of the Capitol in a fuchsia pantsuit, red pumps, white shell — and a coordinated red, white and green cherry-print face mask.

This was the day after Ms. Pelosi had stood at a podium for a news conference in a black dress with a complementary dark green and white foliage-print face mask — which was itself not long after she had appeared in a shell-pink pantsuit with a matching shell-pink mask.

Since late April, when she began wearing silk scarves that were color-coordinated with her suits and shells — orange and orange, blue and blue and cream and brown — and that she had worn bandanna-style around her face, Ms. Pelosi has also modeled a purple suit with a purple/blue, black and white geometric face mask and a white suit and blue shirt with the same.

And though it would be easy to categorize Ms. Pelosi’s masks as fun! and all about self-expression! and — yes — fashion!(as many style watchers have done), her track record and the way her approach contrasts with those around her suggest something more nuanced — though the stratagem is covered, natch, by the accessibility of patterned cloth, the kind we all have to wear and to which we can all relate.

After all, why simply don a face mask when you can also use it to make a political point?

Official Washington may have come relatively late to this particularly emotive symbol of the contemporary culture wars, but it has now fully arrived.

But no other elected official has embraced the mask with as much relentless and considered eye-catching range as Ms. Pelosi.



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