If Billionaire Ivanka Trump Can’t Find Work-Life Balance, What Hope Is There For The Rest Of Us?

 

She’s the epitome of privilege, yet she claims that “having it all” isn’t possible even for someone like her.

Today, billionaire and First Daughter Ivanka Trump released a book titled Women Who Work: Rewriting The Rules For Success. For fans of Ivanka’s eponymous clothing line and her generally picturesque life as an oligarch, it’s been a much anticipated release, pushed a month from its original publication date in order for Ivanka to add reflection on that whole Surprise! My dad is now the President! thing.

For skeptics, on the other hand, it adds to the confounding image of a woman who self-identifies as a feminist dedicated to career-minded women, yet who stands by and actively provides support to her dad, a man widely known for his admission of repeatedly sexually assaulting women, among other things. In her new role as a senior advisor to her father (she has since stepped away from her clothing and accessories line as well as other family-related business out of ethics concerns), she routinely displays her mastery of placid facial expressions and the art of saying nothing while sounding like she’s saying something, but her repeated claim that she’s going to work to defend the rights of women and girls has been a giant nothingburger so far (see: the President signing a bill allowing states to withhold federal funding to Planned Parenthood and yesterday’s announcement that Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative would be terminated, which has since been awkwardly and confusingly walked back).

Add Ivanka’s new book into the mix and she continues to be a conundrum wrapped in an aspirationally luxurious cashmere throw, spritzed a hundred times over with her trademark scent, Complicit. The New York Times reported that according to internal documents, the “Women Who Work” theme on which she’s centered her personal brand came about as recently as four years ago, and she was instructed to play up the mommy vibes on her Instagram and elsewhere in order to combat the perception of her being “rich and unrelatable.” But this effort to seem like “one of the gals” is not terribly subtle; take, for example, the very subtitle of her book, “Rewriting the Rules for Success”; when you’re born into that much money and privilege, the “rules for success” that apply to you are drastically different than those for the rest of us; why would she need to rewrite them when--as her dad’s multiple bankruptcies prove--it’s nearly impossible to fail?

Another stand-out head scratcher? Ivanka declaring that she’s given up on “work-life balance.” To be fair, Ivanka does seem like she leads a busy life (albeit one peppered with frequent skiing trips as of late). But when you’ve got a small army that helps you do your job as well as run your household and take care of your three children, it’s hardly fair to say she understands the balancing act that the vast majority of working women contend with. As the Times review of her book points out, her placement of grocery shopping on the Covey time-management grid in the section for stuff that’s “neither urgent nor important” is laughable; unless she and her family subsist exclusively on their lifetime supply of Omaha Steaks, someone clearly does this for her.

Is there knowledge and inspiration to be gleaned from Ivanka Trump’s insights into the struggles facing working women? Possibly, depending on how much of the Kool-Aid you’re willing to drink (or re-tagged clothing you’re willing to buy). It appears she loves platitudes and inspirational quotes as much as she loves dresses with unimpeachable necklines. But taking into consideration Ivanka’s relatively recent foray into “feminism” and the seemingly well-articulated but ultimately empty declarations she’s made about pushing women’s issues to the forefront, this ploy to make herself relatable by saying, “Hey, I struggle with finding time for self-care, too!” doesn’t go very far. She’s clearly a competent woman that is almost eerily in control of her emotions, even if she can’t exert total control over her narrative anymore. But what she can do is put pressure on her father. She’s repeatedly brought up her support for legislation surrounding paid family leave; advocate for rewriting some of those rules, Ivanka, and you might find yourself being taken more seriously.

-Deena Drewis

 
WorkDeena Drewis