For a woman who voted against raising the federal minimum wage, leaving servers across the country underpaid, Kyrsten Sinema sure seems to love brunch. Or at least she appeared to be enjoying a carefree #SundayFunday this weekend, made evident by a post to her Instagram page.
In the screenshot, Sinema sips from a bendy straw, her eyes looking off into the distance as if she just recognized a friend. She wears pink glasses and a raspberry newsboy cap that match her drink. Thick hoops containing pressed flowers dangled from her ears.
But the focal point of the image, nearly dead center in the frame, was Sinema’s ring: gilded script wrapped around her third finger that screamed, “FUCK OFF.”
Those seem like fighting words from Sinema, who turned against her fellow Democrats—not to mention the 80 million people who rely on hourly pay—to vote no on bumping the minimum wage up to $15 an hour. (She is currently working with Senator Mitt Romney on a proposal to make it $11— lower than her home state Arizona’s $12.)
The ring seems to communicate a perceived irritation—those pesky haters deigning to criticize her decision to leave millions living in poverty.
The photos made the rounds on Twitter, with some seeing “let them eat cake” in the message. But the accessory isn’t just touting aloofness; there is venom in the statement. Leave me alone, it says, even though our anger is a direct response to her own choices.
“The fuck off ring is a gut punch to the people that worked their ass off to elect her. Shameful,” Breonna Westbrook, the vice-chair and executive committee member of the Arizona Democratic Party, tweeted. (The organization did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for further comment, and neither did Sinema’s office.)
Others saw in the ring the centrist Democratic version of that grotesque, “I really don’t care, do u?” Zara coat Melania Trump chose to put on while visiting detained migrant children at the border.
But really, this posturing—the “Who, me?” of it all—is the latest in a series of Sinema missteps. The senator’s office called it sexism when people reacted to her dramatic thumbs down vote on the minimum wage. “Commentary about a female senator’s body language, clothing, or physical demeanor does not belong in a serious media outlet,” Sinema spokesperson Hannah Hurley told Huffington Post back in March.
That is an obvious cop-out, a deflection meant to obfuscate and distract from the main issue. But with the “Fuck off” ring, Sinema wields a token of girlishness—costume jewelry—to double down on her horrendous decision. No, it’s never OK to comment on a woman’s appearance, but when a public figure incorporates her trash values into her wardrobe, then all bets are off.
Sinema has definitely been the target of misogynistic trolls before. When she wore a mint green wig to Congress last summer, Conservative pundits made fun of her Troll doll-hued strands. It was a tired, and deeply flawed attempted “gotcha” moment from Republicans: can you believe a sitting U.S. senator dresses like that?
Sinema’s hair color doesn’t matter much to me. But her “Fuck off” ring begs the question: why does she work as a public servant if she seems to hate people that much?
It’s also reminiscent of Lindsey Lohan’s “Fuck you” manicure, the one she wore while in court for a probation violation back in 2010. The nails were hotly debated at the time, taken as exhibit A of the young star’s privilege and brattiness. Sinema’s ring is the same talking point: she’s giving us the finger just because she can.
And what does Sinema have to complain about right now? Expletives aside, it’s not very radical or punk rock to erode the rights of the working class—even if you sometimes dye your hair green.
Sinema, who rose to prominence in the Green Party and was the first bisexual member of the U.S. Senate, might want to fashion herself as the cool alt senator. But time and again, she proves with her stylings that there is more to walking the walk than mere dress-up. Wear all the rings you want, Senator Sinema, but do not be upset when we take you at your word.