The Hill has released its list of the “50 Most Beautiful” people on capitol hill this week and among the group of stylish powerbrokers are African-American elected officials and staffers in the halls of power, breaking down barriers, and making change, all while staying fit, healthy, and fabulous.
Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson is proud to be included in the stylish group, a list that is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Rep. Wilson is most recognizable outside the beltway for her oversized and colorful hats. As a mature woman, Wilson exemplifies grace and beauty that younger women from all walks of life can look up to.
“Hats are definitely my signature item. The love of hats is rooted in my Bahamian heritage. My grandmother, Frederica, wore hats and I wanted to be just like her. Now I have a granddaughter, Shelby Frederica, who as it so happens also loves hats. I think it’s the “Frederica” legacy,” Wilson told theGrio.
She is featured in The Hill’s most beautiful list alongside other African-Americans including Senator Tim Scott (R-SC); Kirby Bumpus (Gayle King’s daughter), a staffer at the Department of Health and Human Services; Alisha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency; Pete Haviland-Eduah, a deputy press secretary to Senator Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY); and Tonya Williams, Vice President Joe Biden’s legislative director.
While they range in age and position on the hill, almost all cited exercise and healthy eating as priorities that carry over into your work. Tonya Williams noted that the vice president told her upon joining his staff, “Don’t ever think that you’re so essential to what we’re doing that you can’t and shouldn’t take care of the things that are important to you. If I ever find out that you are here doing work when you are supposed to be with your family, I’ll fire you.” Williams told The Hill she makes sure to take time off to unwind whenever she can because D.C. is the type of city where waiting for the perfect time to unwind will leave you waiting forever.
Congresswoman Wilson also cited healthy living and taking time for herself when necessary as part of her path to sustained success. “I believe it is about taking care of one’s self, both inside and out. While I will never dissuade anyone from expressing their personal style, maintaining your health and staying active are important. Do not skip doctor appointments and take the stairs when you can. I take this personal as an African-American woman. Too often we are the caretakers of the community at the expense of our own health. Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and many other chronic conditions are preventable with changes to our diet and exercise. Healthy living has to become a foundational tenet of our community,” Wilson told theGrio.
She is living by example and is a role model for young people in the black community about being successful, remaining grounded, and prioritizing your health.
As a woman of color in the predominantly white male institution known as Congress, Wilson says she never felt any additional pressure to stay inside the box or follow any predetermined set of expectations because of her race or her gender.
Her personal style is unique and she says, “I take it all in stride. When I was a little girl, I would walk with my grandmother and would hold her gloved hand. I would look at her beaming with pride. I was her namesake and she was so beautiful and fancy. During those special walks, a seed was planted. My love for hats, gloves and all things beautiful grew. I loved to dress up. Later in life, I began my professional career in the classroom as an educator. Children are sponges that absorb everything around them. I took special care with how I dressed and my overall presentation because I knew the impression it would make on my students,” Wilson told theGrio.
Rep. Wilson says, “I have always believed that how you present yourself sends a message to the world. While I don’t feel any external pressures on my style and reputation, I know that I am a global ambassador for Miami Dade and Broward counties and I don’t take that lightly.”
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.