by Latoya Peterson, originally published at Jezebel
In Latina, we learned all about Sonia Sotomayor‘s personal life and style. A new profile in the New Yorker thoroughly probes her work life and relationships to paint another picture of the justice as intellectually savvy, confident, and compassionate.
Running twelve long pages, Lauren Collins’s piece delves deeply into Sotomayor’s past, relying heavily on the testimony of friends and congressional gossip to reveal how much was at stake with her historic nomination, and how long a climb it actually was. Collins’s article deserves a deep reading on its own merit, but here are eight items that stood out to me as particularly telling.
Focus on Sotomayor’s Clothing as a Signifier of Difference
Much has been made of Sotomayor’s nail polish and hoop earrings. Writer Lauren Collins continues this trend within the first few paragraphs noting:
By the end of the hour allotted to the case, Justice Sotomayor-wearing a snaky silver cuff bracelet and with her fingernails painted sports-car red-had spoken five times.
This is normally positioned alongside other quirky characteristics of Sotomayor, like her card-sharking ways. No, seriously.
The financial-disclosure form that she filed with the Senate revealed that, in 2008, in a Florida casino, she had won $8,283 playing cards.
During the nomination process, Sotomayor’s background was carefully scrutinized, and she was instructed to camouflage or obscure some of her normal habits. In some ways, her embrace of her own cosmetic preferences and hobbies over what is considered to be safe or acceptable signal she is not ashamed of who she is or where she has come from. Assimilation requires a very high price and her refusal to do so is an amazing stand for individual truth. There is nothing inferior about wearing colored nail polish, or wearing an off-the-rack suit to work, or rocking hoop earrings. Just as many of us are asked to remove our ethnic and regional markers in exchange for success (straightening hair, tightening diction, and avoiding items that call attention to the wearer) Sotomayor’s subtle – but persistent- refusal to fall in line implies much more than a love of candy apple red polish. Continue reading