Yesterday Melania Trump visited a detention center for migrant children in McAllen, Texas. When she boarded the plane in the morning at the Andrew's Air Force base in Maryland, she was wearing a Zara coat that said "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"
When she arrived in Texas and visited the detention center around 12:15 P.M. EST, she had removed the coat, and she didn't wear it during her visit.
By 1 P.M. EST, images of her wearing the coat had gone immediately viral.
The uproar was so universal that less than an hour later, at 1:40P.M. EST, the First Lady's spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to address it. (This from a spokesperson and team that rarely addresses anything.) "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today's important visit to Texas, I hope this isn't what the media is going to choose to focus on," Grisham told ABC White House reporter Meredith McGraw. That means that even if the jacket had been a very unhappy accident earlier in the day, by mid-afternoon the First Lady and her team were well aware how insensitive the messaging had been. Ok.
But then what happened? She put the jacket back on.
When Melania deplaned in Maryland yesterday afternoon, she was photographed wearing the jacket again. It was 82° in Maryland yesterday; she didn't need a jacket.
Should that surprise us? Absolutely not. There's a sad little #FreeMelania meme on the internet, the joke being that Melania is a prisoner in her husband's lair. It strips the First Lady of autonomous thought, but it also absolves her of insensitive actions. Melania is not a prisoner, and she's not careless-especially not about her wardrobe. "I style myself and choose what to wear based on what I feel good in it," she told ELLE reporter Hayley Phelan an interview in 2016. "I always wear what I like and what is appropriate for the occasion."
Melania's coat presents us with a horrifying reality: It was on purpose, and it's exactly what she thinks. The clothes that Melania chooses to wear and not wear, the words she chooses to say or not say, all of it is intentional. She is a woman who cares about how she presents herself. And when she tells us, with her appearance or with her words or with a combination of both, that she doesn't care, we should believe her. It's as callous and misanthropic as statement as any first lady has ever made in history, and its an action and line of beliefs unworthy of the position.
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