Last week, the internet was aflame with a conspiracy theory that Melania Trump may actually have a body double. While the rumors have been debunked, what leads us to the conversation and what evidence was there that Melania had one? Let us unpack everything that happened and what that means for you.
Where did the rumor come from?
As with any story, there has to be another story about how it all started. It turns out that this story was merely the speculation of an individual who noticed that Melania’s face wasn’t quite the same as they had recognized. Facebook user, Andrea Barton, shared the idea, and this image explains the difference. The images do look like it could be two different people. The so-called “evidence” led to quite a stir. As it turns out, the image on the left is just a distorted television capture that makes it look skewed, but that didn’t stop the fervor.
Next: The conspiracy theorists pile on …
How did it spread so fast?
Conspiracy theorists were quick to jump on board with the story and add their own insights to the whole story. One skeptic pointed to a photo of Melania Trump walking on the tarmac of an airport with her Secret Service detail and noted that one of the agents looks strikingly similar to Melania. In the photo above you can see that the agent has a similar bone structure to Melania and could easily be used as a stand-in for her with the right stylist.
This gave a little legitimacy to the theory and when one is presented with multiple levels of “evidence” their mind tends to now accept it as fact. This process is almost impossible to reverse. Even now, even though the accusation has been largely discredited, you are thinking that it is actually possible that there could be some truth to the theory.
Next: Even the White House has weighed in on the matter.
How is the White House handling the story?
In a rare moment of the east wing actually making sense at the White House, Stephanie Grisham, communications director, accurately summed up what most people thought about this story: This is a non-story. “Once again, we find ourselves consumed with a ridiculous non-story when we could be talking about the work the first lady is doing on behalf of children, including the opioid crisis that is gripping our nation,” Grisham told CNN. Which begs the question, why are we still talking about it?
Next: If it’s been discredited, then why are we still talking about it?
So, why are we still talking about it?
Psychologically, we love a good mystery. It’s no wonder that Americans believe in conspiracy theories in disturbingly high numbers. For example, almost a third of all Americans believe in the “Birther” conspiracy from the Obama era. Believers come in all shapes and sizes from rich to poor, black to white, and left to right.
The fact that the political spectrum in America is so divided with so much animosity, people will make up anything to make their enemy seem evil, vindictive, or disingenuous in some way. When it comes to Melania, however, it’s a little different. She’s not generally seen in a bad light by her husband’s political foes. So what makes this “non-story” conspiracy theory so interesting?
Next: This is a rare case in the conspiracy theory world, and here’s why.
People feel bad for Melania
It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that the people who don’t like Trump can’t understand why on earth anyone would marry him. Now that the couple is under the very watchful eye of the American public, a lot of people think that Melania is unhappy in her marriage. That’s an easy leap for an outsider looking in to make because of their behavior with one another. Melania almost always has a forlorn look on her face, aside from press ops.
Donald and Melania don’t spend very much time together in person, let alone the same state. There is that hilarious video of Donald trying to hold Melania’s hand and she swipes it away. These are all hallmark traits of a marriage in shambles. So it is not that far of a leap that someone could presume (especially if that someone really doesn’t like Donald Trump) that it’s so bad, she has to hire a body double to attend events for her rather than being in his presence.
Next: Body doubles are more common than you think.
Have people used body doubles in the past?
Body doubles are surprisingly common in the political sphere. A lot of dictators like to use them. Saddam Hussein was probably the most prolific in using body doubles in recent history, but other dictators like Stalin use them as well. Their motivations, however, were much different than what the conspiracy theorists narrative is for why they think Melania would have one. Generally, especially for dictators, body doubles were used to thwart assassination attempts, not hide from their insane spouses.
Next: So what is the significance of this story?
Does this have any real impact on the world?
If anything, this story has given us a glimpse into the American psyche and taught us that we should be skeptical of everything. But not so skeptical that we start to make up things in our heads like Melania Trump being so unsatisfied or unhappy in her marriage that she has the need for a body double. The simple fact is that she does not have one, or need one. Odds are that her marriage will fall apart while Trump is still in office (if he goes to full term). Literally, those are the betting odds right now according to a betting website “Paddy Power,” and if that isn’t hilarious, we don’t know what is.
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