Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Jackie - Ethel...Friendship

If you’re a Kennedy fan like me, then you’re well aware of the (hmm, how best to say it…) friendship / contrast between Jackie and Ethel Kennedy. Scrolling through my newsfeed one day, I happened upon this pic of the two of them.
For me, so many things come to mind. First off, they both look genuinely happy with each other’s company and as though they’re having a pleasant conversation. Don’t worry. Jackie and Ethel weren’t the kind of ladies who would brawl or scrap, but apart from their roles as Kennedy wives, they had a hard time finding common ground.

Ethel was quick to tease Jackie and to make fun of her, especially around the other Kennedy women. Ethel, and eventually a few of the other Kennedy gals, enjoyed ribbing Jackie for her Debutante of the Year title, her ‘big feet’, and her taste for fine things, which included art and French cuisine.
Ever the graduate from Miss Porter’s finishing school, Jackie wasn’t one to return the jabs. She endured the comments and remained the quiet one among the Kennedy clan. The other ladies often mistook her demeanor as being snobbish. But there are three things to always remember about Jackie Kennedy: Her kindness never faltered; she was a near-perfect wife, mother, and full-blooded American patriot; and she had a sharp, quick wit.

However, Jackie struggled to fit in, or more precisely, to be accepted for who she was, in the Kennedy family. They were boisterous, enjoyed heated debates during dinner and physical games after, and believed in public service. Challenging qualities for Jackie, who was reserved, notoriously private, and had no passion for politics. You’d have a hard time remembering Ethel wasn’t Kennedy-born, as she was a natural fit: she gave birth to 11 children (surpassing family matriarch Rose and her 9 children), once jumped into a swimming pool during a dinner party, and desperately wanted to be first lady.

But in the picture above, another interesting element is Ethel’s ensemble. Jackie became known for her fashion choices, but in this photo, Ethel’s dress has a better fit–and she’s accessorized with gloves and pearls! Is she mocking Jackie? (Probably not, but it’s too fun NOT to say it.)
And who knew they would have the same taste in handbags? When you think of alligator bags, it definitely takes you back to a long-gone era, where ladies mopped all day, shopped, and watched soap operas. (Are alligator bags still stylish, or has PETA outlawed them?)

If you’re interested in reading more about Jackie, Ethel, and their conflicts, check out my novel, O! Jackie , where they clash over more than dinner etiquette and accessories.