Melania Trump Continues to Send Messages Through Her Clothes
The First Lady used the State of the Union to show she still doesn’t care.
In the three years that Melania Trump has been the First Lady of the United States, her sartorial choices have often said more about her views than anything she's spoken. Most infamously in 2018, in the early days of the Trump administration separating migrant children from their families and detaining them at the border, she boarded a plane wearing a Zara jacket that read "I Really Don't Care Do U?" It was a tone-deaf statement that her spokesperson later defended by saying that the media was “reading into it.”
This trend began before she assumed the role of FLOTUS, however, and quickly became a pattern. In 2015, after then-candidate Trump was caught saying he could grab women "by the pussy," Melania wore a pink Gucci pussybow blouse to his debate against Hillary Clinton. She never spoke out about the recording or the multiple allegations of sexual assault against him. Instead, she wore a top that was taken as a flippant response to the seriousness of her role and the actions of her husband.
In 2017, while the designer of Dolce and Gabbana was in the midst of a scandal for making fatphoic and racist remarks, Melania wore a dress by the brand to the New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. The brand then shared the photo of her on Instagram and proudly called her a "DG woman.” With endless options for what she could wear, the fact that she chose to support that particular brand, at that moment, yet again communicated a lack of awareness and sensitivity to concerns that many people have loudly expressed.
Tuesday night, at the 2020 Presidential State of the Union address, she continued her tradition of speaking without saying a word, echoing her Zara jacket again. Walking into the chambers, Melania wore a black Dolce & Gabbana suit paired with black heels. In a room full of symbolic sartorial choices including red details adorning the dresses, blazers, and ties of the Republicans attending – even Ivanka Trump’s black dress had a red turtleneck – and Democrat women including Nancy Pelosi, wearing white to represent the fight for women’s equality, Melania’s choice appeared especially muted, if not only for the still-polarizing designer.
Toward the beginning of the address, Melania stood and waved as her husband praised her “Be Best” initiative. Despite establishing the initiative’s focus on well-being, opioid abuse, and online safety, Melania has stood behind her husband as he harassed people online; at the ceremony, she clapped as he degraded immigrants using harmful terms. Meanwhile, she was yet again wearing a dress by Dolce & Gabanna who’d in the past used their social media channels to harass Selena Gomez on social media and call her “ugly.”
At one point, Trump asked his wife to present the The Presidential Medal of Freedom to former radio host Rush Limbaugh who was seated next to her. As she honored a tearful Limbaugh, it was hard to ignore just how strange the moment was. Not only is it unprecedented for this to happen in the middle of a State of the Union, or for anyone but the President himself to present the honor, but Limbaugh has a history of making offensive and outrageous remarks to or about women and minorities. In 2012, he called a college student a “slut” and a “prostitute” on his radio show because she said she wanted the government to cover birth control costs. It was without irony that the proprietor of the #BeBest anti-bullying initiative, wearing the clothing designed by a person criticized for being a bully, affixed a medal onto him which is usually presented to people who have made “exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Did the First Lady have anything to say about that while the country watched? Well, she told us exactly how she felt in 2018 — I Really Don't Care Do U? — and on Tuesday night, she simply stuck with it.