Maine woman starts viral celebration of Clinton’s wardrobe

CLINTON_19077391

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (wearing red pantsuit) is joined by U.S. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton at a campaign rally on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 7, 2016, the final day of campaigning before the election. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Known as a place where rugged plaid shirts, Carhartt pants and the fashion-challenged (but much loved) L.L. Bean boot dominate the state’s signature wardrobe, Maine seems like an unlikely to a place to launch a national celebration of the women’s professional pantsuit.

But a ‘secret’ invite-only Facebook page dedicated to Hillary Clinton and her wardrobe of choice — which three weeks ago was barely a glimmer in the eye of its founder, Maine resident Libby Chamberlain — now boasts more members than Maine has residents: 2.3 million people, the group indicated Monday night.

The Pantsuit Nation movement started as a Facebook group of about 50 friends who bonded over their admiration and support for the Democratic presidential nominee, with the idea that members would wear pantsuits when they go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Since then, there have been articles on the exploding viral phenomenon published by the Washington Post, CNNMashablethe L.A. Times and Scary Mommy (the last of which includes a link to a post by the BDN’s own blogger extraordinaire Sarah Cottrell).

“The internet is full right now of every possible combination of things being said [about Clinton] except for this,” Chamberlain told Mashable. “[Pantsuit Nation] is not a place to convince anyone how great she is. It’s a place to celebrate how great she is.”

Chamberlain told CNN in an email that the idea for Pantsuit Nation sprung from a conversation she had with a friend after the third and final debate between Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump on Oct. 19.

“We talked about how beautifully and stoically Hillary embodies women’s fight for equality, and how the pantsuit is an emblem of that struggle,” she told the cable news outlet. “It’s a symbol that might be lost on younger women, and so I wanted to do something to re-appropriate that symbol and everything that it means to me as a feminist and Clinton supporter.”
The group is open to men and women alike and to all Clinton supporters regardless of political affiliation. Trolls that sneak into the group get kicked out, negativity is discouraged, and poll numbers, memes, videos or news articles are not allowed, according to the reports.
I tried and was unable to contact Chamberlain on Monday, but I did get an email response from PN staffer who told me “Libby and the team is focusing on getting out the vote tomorrow.” 
I also got a fact sheet attached to the email. The group gets roughly 150,000 posts submitted each day from its membership and since Nov. 4 — over the past four days — it has raised more than $200,000 for Clinton’s campaign, the attachment indicated.
They also sent me some prepared answers to the questions reporters have been asking Chamberlain.
“I had NO idea this was going to happen!,” she said of the tremendous explosion of the group. “It shows the incredible power of social media at its very best.”
The purpose of the group, she added, is to give members a ‘safe’ place where they can freely praise their favored candidate, without fear of angry backlash or threats from Clinton’s critics.
“I wanted to create a place for friends to celebrate voting for and electing the first female president, in all her pantsuited glory,” Chamberlain wrote.
As for Chamberlain’s choice of pantsuit, she wrote that she has been much busier than anticipated the past few weeks and, rather than going out to shop for one, she purchased three online. The one she will wear on Election Day is white — a color, she said, that “has important symbolism in women’s rights and for women in politics.”
The group has a public Facebook page and its own website. If that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for PN online content, it also is on Twitter and Instagram.
To read the fact sheet the group sent me, click here, but keep in mind the figures they provided me will probably change significantly overnight.
Bill Trotter

About Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors. He writes about fisheries, marine-related topics, eastern coastal Maine communities and more for the BDN. He lives in Ellsworth. Follow him on Twitter at @billtrotter.