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Tim Gunn: Female Senate Page Advocate

Gunn wants to update female pages' uniforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The uniforms of female Senate pages are not up to the standards of fashion expert Tim Gunn. The co-host of "Project Runway," and now the spinoff "Project Runway Juniors," wanted one of the challenges in the show to be fixing their uniforms.  

But even though female pages are wearing men’s clothes, Congress “refused” to let the show take this on, Gunn told the Daily Mail . He added, “And do you want to know why? They say that they don't want to sexualize the girls. How insulting is that? Can you imagine?” Gunn brought up the uniforms in his 2013 book, “Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible.” He writes that he made a visit to Capitol Hill in 2010 and a teenage girl approached him, asking for his opinion on her clothes. He knew she was a Senate page, he writes, and asked her what she thought of her own outfit.  

The page walked him to a group of more than 20 other female pages and he recalls saying, “You young ladies are wearing men’s clothes!” He writes, “They looked like they’d been dressed in their brothers’ clothes, right down to their footwear, men’s brown brogues. Before we even engaged in a dialogue, I confessed that I was struck by the misogyny of it all.”  

He figured out that when women were introduced to the ranks of Senate pages, the uniforms were not altered.  

His book continues, “Doesn’t it speak volumes for the cultural and social perception of women in the workforce, when you’re told that even though you have a woman’s body, you’re only allowed to wear clothes made for men? The message sent by this policy is that if women are to be accepted into the exclusive ranks of men, then they have to look like men: buttoned up, stuffy and no-nonsense.”  

First lady Michelle Obama made an appearance on the show last week via video link. She challenged contestants to support her “Let Girls Learn” initiative for education access by creating a “Girl on the Go” style. Gunn told the Daily Mail he originally wanted the first lady to redesign the female Senate page uniforms on the show.

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