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First Lady’s Jacket: A Tone-Deaf Expression is Never Silent

Before she was the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump was a model. She knows a little about making a statement with fashion. She should know that people judge you based on your appearance and that clothes are one of the best indicators of an individual’s personality.

So, it’s incredibly bizarre that Melania Trump chose to wear a jacket emblazoned with the words “I don’t care, do you?” on a brief visit to one of the immigrant child detention camps Thursday.

While it hasn’t yet been 24 hours since that trip, there’s already been plenty of discussion about what the jacket meant. The First Lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, was quick to respond.

“It’s just 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 said.

Yet, it was hard not to focus on it because it was such a perplexing and particularly insensitive choice – and it was a choice.

Just one day after President Trump signed an Executive Order ending the administration’s practice of separating immigrant children from their parents – a policy his administration established – Mrs. Trump decided to visit one of the facilities where children were being kept. She also decided to wear a jacket emblazoned with a statement. A tone-def and insensitive statement. But what does it mean?

If you believe the First Lady’s spokesperson, it meant nothing. Not so says the president, who tweeted: “I really don’t care, do you,” refers to the fake news media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are and she truly no longer cares.”

Trump has said any number of things this week that have been demonstrably false. And, while there’s no way of knowing whether his explanation was true, recent history would argue it isn’t. So, what could the First Lady have been trying to do or say by wearing that jacket?

A Few Thoughts

  • She’s actually trolling the President:She’s over it already. If the subtle cues of an icy personal relationship with her husband aren’t enough to conclude that the honeymoon is over, not so subliminal messages are a perfect way to make that entirely clear. If she wants out of the suffocating scrutiny of the White House or her marriage, there’s perhaps no better way to throw some not-so-subtle shade at her husband than a passive-aggressive fashion statement.

  • She didn’t think twice about the jacket:While doubtful, it’s possible that the First Lady innocently grabbed the jacket without thinking about the message it would send. But, she had a spokesperson and staff people who could have said, “you might want to re-think that particular piece.” Not doing so is just unconscionable.

  • She really doesn’t care and wants us to know it.Sometimes, what you see is what you get. But what doesn’t she care about? The media? The job? The kids? It’s entirely unclear.

  • Does it Matter Anyway? The distraction of the jacket meant we all diverted our attention long enough to lose focus of the fact that immigrant children are still separated from their parents and it’s unclear if and when all of them will be reunited with their parents.

Yes, it was a bit of a mean girl fashion choice regardless of the intended target. It’s in direct opposition to the First Lady’s publicized interest in encouraging children to “Be Best”, but we should move on. Because it’s a good bet that the distraction of a particularly tone-def fashion choice has meant we ignored an even bigger scandal already underway within the Trump administration.

Stacy Fitzgerald is a Washington, DC area Gen Xer whose obsessions include politics, traveling and food and wine ventures.

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