She’s tall, soigne, a shapely former Slovenian model, golden-haired and pretty eyed, with an inscrutable smile, who plays a kind of Mona Lisa in high heels to her Mad Hatter husband. Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States, is a reluctant ascendant to the throne, a very different kind of first lady who, like her husband, has no characterological precedent.
She doesn’t even live at the White House. Much criticism has been hurled her way for breaking with protocol by remaining ensconced in Trump Tower so Barron, their 11-year-old son, can finish the school year uninterrupted in New York City, but she’s stood her ground despite a petition insisting she move to Washington to save taxpayers the additional Secret Service expense. She said from the very beginning that she’s “a mom first.”
Her absence is a kind of presence, a prickly vacancy that invites curiosity and speculation about her private life, especially from the loony left as exemplified by the porcine Rosie O’Donnell. Although each of O’Donnell’s two failed marriages did not last more than three years, it didn’t stop her from dispensing unsolicited relationship advice in a tweet to Mrs. Trump. She urged her to divorce her husband and “take ur son n parents and FLEE.”
This from a former “View” voice who famously embarrassed herself by cruelly suggesting in a YouTube video that Barron could be autistic. Mrs. Trump threatened to sue, the video was removed, and O’Donnell issued a fawning apology.
Melania Doesn’t Seem Keen on the Spotlight
The first lady’s public appearances have been rare. When she does make one you get the feeling she’d rather be elsewhere. Or maybe not. It’s hard to tell what is behind that smile, a smile that might not be a smile at all, but an expression of Cartesian stoicism. What is clear is that she prefers privacy to the spotlight, the role of a parent to a Clintonesque speechifier.
But all that might be changing, if ever so gradually. On March 29 she made a rare appearance, her first as first lady, at the 2017 secretary of State’s Women of Courage Awards, a tribute to women who have overcome injustice and domestic violence. Then a few days later the White House unveiled her official portrait, but no one saw it. I mean, really saw it, saw it objectively.
The commentary was decidedly partisan, a projection of political beefs that reveal everything about the commentators but nothing about her, deepening her mystique, obstructing a reasonable understanding of who she is and eliding her more serious pursuits, such as her charitable commitments and bringing awareness about the dangers of cyber bullying.
The portrait is innocuous enough. She’s wearing a black Dolce and Gabbana jacket and a sparkly Hermes neckerchief, nothing flashy. Her arms are crossed and she looks unflinchingly into the camera with a decorous smile. Dignified yet stylish, her suit is more professional than glamorous. A 25-carat emerald-cut diamond ring on one hand, large by any standards, and a diamond band on the other, both gifts from her husband. They highlight her long elegant fingers.
She could have easily downplayed the pricey precious metals, but that would have been inauthentic. The portrait is pure Melania, no radical departure, no pandering modifications, and not at all different from what we’ve seen of her before.
Yet the liberal reaction has been mean-spirited and hateful, strenuously deconstructing every aspect of the portrait, from her clothes to the window in the background, eager to find foibles and flaws, if ever so slight. Their seething jealousy is apparent, as if they just can’t get over the fact that she won and they lost, that she is beautiful and rich, and, like her husband, inured to their petty pontifications and personal attacks.
It’s a Lot of Things, But a Glamour Shot Isn’t One of Them
NPR’s Tamara Keith wrote that it is “no surprise that her first official portrait is a glamour shot.” A glamour shot? She is sadly mistaken, indicative of the bulk of liberal bashing.
The hallmark of the glamour shot is sexual allure often expressed in revealing clothing, say, a plunging neckline, lingerie, or a slit skirt, or much less, the objective to show a lot of pulchritudinous skin. The pose in “glamour shots” is coy, the expression lubricious, and the overall intent is to titillate.
Mrs. Trump’s official portrait is devoid of all of these elements. Rather, it is a “head shot,” nothing more, nothing less, typical of the type any executive might use who wants to project strength and confidence, but also desires to look her best.
Probably the most hypocritical and hair-brained analysis came from sex-obsessed Cosmopolitan magazine, which stated the photo seems to be heavily airbrushed. They should know. I doubt that there’s ever been a photo of a Cosmo model or cover girl their staff hasn’t subjected to Photoshop enhancements, airbrushing, or both.
They, too, resorted to the favorite leftist low blow, inaccurately calling it a “‘glamour shot.” Don’t they know the difference? After all, it is their business.
Others were slightly more original but equally petty. A former Comedy Central writer asked on Twitter why Melania Trump’s portrait was taken in front of the Muppet Babies window? It was of course taken at the White House, but the windows do look similar. One wonders how much time and scrutiny were required to come up with this silly bit of ridicule. Anything to demean.
We See Melania But Don’t See Her
The obvious irony is that her true unveiling took place 15 years ago in British GQ in which she was sprawled out on a bed naked save for a pair of high heels, a chainmail choker with matching bracelets, and handcuffed to a briefcase. Other risqué poses included a scantily clad Melania aboard a private jet, all genuine glamour shots.
But the dogs bark and the caravan moves on. On April 5 she welcomed King Abdullah of Jordan and Princess Rainier to the White House, her first official meeting with royalty. For someone who doesn’t live at the White House she spends an awful lot of time there.
Looking gracious in a green belted dress, she and Princess Rainier visited Excel Academy, a DC all-girl charter school. Both share a passion for education. The first lady has said that it is “the most powerful way to ensure women’s rights.”
The next day she was there to welcome the president of China, Xi Jinping and his wife, Madame Pang Linyuan. Soldiers from The Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride were honored the same day. For someone who doesn’t live at the White House, she spends a lot of time there.
— The Palm Beach Post (@pbpost) April 7, 2017
Still, The New York Times wasn’t impressed with the Princess Rainier visit, complaining it was a mere photo op intended to “provide another glimpse of a first lady whose sporadic appearances in Washington have revealed relatively little about her own leadership style.” It’s no secret The New York Times does not like her, yet they want to see more of her. Weird.
They will see more of her, but on her own terms, according to her own timetable. Barron’s school term ends in a couple of months and she’ll spend more time at The White House where a host of official functions are planned. Next up is an Easter celebration on the South Lawn on April 17, a tradition that dates back to 1878.
And so the unveiling continues.