Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tough as Nails*

This week’s New Yorker features a profile of Justice Sonia Sotomayor – well worth the read. (The illustration at the left is mentioned in the profile, as a framed item that sits on Justice Sotomayor's desk.)

As usual, Sotomayor impresses me with her ability to thread the oh-so-impossible needle of showing personality and feistiness, yet offering a professional and respected perspective.

In other Sotomayor news, this month she granted her first magazine photo cover as a Supreme Court justice to Latina magazine.  In this photo, Sotomayor is wearing her judge's robe, with her hand over her heart - beautifully showcasing her signature, bright red nails.  Nails that she had been advised not to paint for her confirmation hearing.  It's a fantastic photo. I love that she is challenging the staid fashion standards for female judges, even choosing not to wear a judicial collar during court.

Some great insight on the set up for the shot (click here to see the cover yourself):
Everything was going great, but there was one thing that we remained curious about. Latina writer Sandra Guzmán provides some background:

“While President Obama's staff was preparing Sotomayor for the confirmation hearings, the team covered all of the potentially explosive questions and briefed her on every minute detail, including how to dress for the cameras. They even advised her to keep her nails a neutral shade, which she did. But on the day of the White House reception celebrating her appointment, Sotomayor asked the president to look at her freshly manicured nails, holding up her hands to show off her favorite color: a fire-engine red. The president chuckled, saying that she had been warned against that color.”

My editor, Mimi Valdés, tells me that in many Latino families, red is a very important and symbolic color. It's seen as an "adult" color, and it's even considered inappropriate to dress a little girl in red. For many, the color is very much a point of pride.

We knew about the judge's love for the color red, so we made sure to tell the manicurist for our shoot to bring lots of red nail polish. But we weren't sure if it would end up in any of the photos. During the shoot, there was a moment the judge made a gesture, and Mimi and I looked at each other. Platon saw it, of course, and captured her hand on her heart--and we had our cover.

I love this photo. To me, it looks like she's taking a pledge. It looks like she understands how historic this is. What this means not just for her, but for millions of other people. And, I like to think, it looks like she's now able to proudly show off... that beautiful color red.

*Huffington Post, June 10, 2009

No comments: