Next time you waste approximately 2,321 seconds of your life scrolling aimlessly through Instagram posts of Thai food, selfies, and the odd beach, take comfort in knowing that somewhere in D.C. or New York City, one of your idols is doing exactly the same thing. Probably. Hillary Clinton joined Instagram on Wednesday morning with a photo captioned "Hard Choices" — e.g. the title of her latest memoir, released last year in the run-up to her announcement — that managed to be patriotic, down-to-earth, and a nod to her critics all at once.
It's an interesting choice of first post. After all, Clinton has been criticized for most of her career for her outfit choices, hairstyles, degree of attractiveness, and, hell, just for being a woman — and that focus on her outfits, as opposed to her actual policies, is only going to be heightened in the run-up to 2016. Clinton knows this. By publicizing a selection of outfits she's presumably choosing from — the red, white, and blue is a nice touch, even though the red looks a touch more like pink to me — Clinton is shrugging off the critics and re-affirming her right to care about her appearance and also care about the minimum wage being raised and mass incarceration being tackled.
Certainly, it would have been safer for Clinton to have picked a more generic photo for her first-ever Instagram post — like Joe Biden's own Instagram opener, which was a selfie with Obama.
But, come on — has Clinton ever picked the safe route? This is a woman who publicly, confidently defended her course of action in regard to Benghazi in spite of nationwide backlash; a woman who hasn't led one failed bid for president stop her from running eight years later, and with no less critics; a woman who, instead of sticking with her successful legal career, branched out into politics rather than sticking to the typical First Lady route. As a rule, Clinton has shrugged off sexism not by calling it out, but by undermining those who believe her gender is more important than her policies ("If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle," she famously said).
The caption "Hard choices" doesn't necessarily suggest that Clinton is having a hard time picking out an outfit — it's more complex than that. (You can doubt many things about Clinton, but her intelligence probably isn't one of them.) By putting on a certain outfit each day, she's making a choice. By posting this photograph to Instagram, she's making a choice. By running for president, by publicly supporting same-sex marriage and the death penalty and the right of women to have an abortion, she's making a choice. Her choices aren't dictated by her gender — they're just dictated by Clinton the politician and person, who makes hard choices every day, and will continue to make them if she becomes president.
By joining Instagram with a photo that spotlights her myriad interests — her appearance; her patriotism; her plans for the day; her memoir; her decisions — Clinton is, once again, dealing with critics by simply ignoring them. In Clinton's world, it's so ridiculous that anyone would judge her worth by her gender that it's not worth addressing or changing anything for. This is part and package of her platform — being on the front lines of an America in which it's flat-out insane to judge anyone by their race, their gender, their sexuality — and you know what, it might just work.