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There’s a debate raging over the new Vanity Fair editor’s fox tights

And now they are a feminist symbol.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29:  Executive Editor of TIME Radhika Jones attends the TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 most influential people in the world, at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TIME)
Radhika Jones.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TIME
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

Radhika Jones, who is taking over as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, has an impressive résumé. She attended Harvard and Columbia, oversaw the New York Times’s book department as editorial director, and served as the deputy managing editor of Time. She is the first woman to lead Vanity Fair since Tina Brown in 1992. She is the first Indian-American woman to become editor-in-chief of a glossy magazine.

But none of this matters because she wore ... fox tights.

Sorry — fox tights and an “iffy” shift dress with some zippers.

At least that’s the conclusion from an article in Women’s Wear Daily about Jones’s first meeting with company staff — an article that touched a nerve online as the latest example of the constant scrutiny successful women face for how they look.

The article cited an anonymous fashion editor who didn’t mention anything about the new boss’s ambitions for the publication, or her vision for success in an ever-changing media landscape. Instead, Jones apparently just had terrible choice in stockings, or something:

“She seemed nervous. The outfit was interesting,” the staffer noted. According to the fashion editor — who omitted Jones’ admirable literary accomplishments from conversation — the incoming editor wore a navy shiftdress strewn with zippers, a garment deemed as “iffy” at best.

Jones’ choice of hosiery proved most offensive, according to the editor. For the occasion, Jones had chosen a pair of tights — not in a neutral black or gray as is common in the halls of Vogue — but rather a pair covered with illustrated, cartoon foxes.

And women on Twitter cried out in defense of whimsical hosiery:

The whole affair was great advertising for fox tights:

Beyond quotes that sound like Mean Girls parodies — “I’m not sure if I should include a new pair of tights in her welcome basket,” this fashion editor is said to have remarked — the situation sparked such a swift reaction online because it was a depressing reminder of the level of scrutiny and shaming women face for their clothing choices.

This is doubly true for women in powerful positions, who face criticism on everything from what they wear to how they sound to how they look.

Meanwhile, men are rarely held to the same standard. Graydon Carter’s hair became his signature as editor of Vanity Fair; it had no bearing on how he ran the magazine.

Of course, the WWD report just gave one editor’s take. But the whole affair seems to have led to a spike in demand for fox tights:

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