Melania Trump Just Set a Fashion Precedent — But At What Cost to Her Relationship With America

Melania Trump in jacket

US First Lady Melania Trump boards Air Force One | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

First lady Melania Trump took a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, June 22, to tour an immigrant children’s shelter. The trip garnered significant media attention, but not just because it was the first step in the administration’s revised family border plan.

The public questioned the former model’s fashion choice for its controversial, graffiti-style message, as well as the family’s response to criticism.

She made a statement hoping the media would ignore it

The Trump administration’s war on the media may go down in history synonymous with President Nixon’s war on drugs. According to the president and first lady, Melania made her controversial jacket choice in the hope that “the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.” If your head hurts trying to comprehend this backward thinking, don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone.

“‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” President Trump tweeted. Trump’s use of social media to express his disdain for The Media feels equivocal to Nixon blowing his disdain for drugs out in a puff of smoke.

Melania’s spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said the jacket had no meaning in a statement contradictory to Donald’s tweet.

Donald Trump tweet

Donald Trump tweets his thoughts | Donald Trump via Twitter

Melania didn’t wear the jacket in Texas

Melania set out on Air Force One to visit migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border. She donned the jacket boarding the plane but took it off at some point during the flight. When she landed in McAllen, Texas, she was wearing a cream-colored coat free of any text.

In a statement just shy of coincidental, Melania changed back into the jacket upon landing in Maryland later that same afternoon. The temperature was 81 degrees and she’d likely already seen the criticism from her initial wearing.

The jacket wasn’t Melania’s usual high-fashion choice

The jacket was noteworthy in another way, as it represents one of the first “young fashion” pieces she wore as first lady. Melania opts for exclusive, high-end designers like Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, and Chanel. The jacket in question belongs to the Spain-founded fast-fashion millennial brand Zara.

The “I REALLY DON’T CARE DO U” jacket cost $39 and is one thing Melania usually never wears — last season.

Zara has yet to comment on the first lady’s fashion choice or the jacket in question.

The public response was negative

We care sweater

A designer created a ‘we care’ sweater | linguafrancanyc via Instagram

Melania’s jacket choice sparked protest from other retailers, politicians, and the American public. Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Nev.) wore an “I Care” sign taped to her back with a poignant message to the first lady. “Hey #FLOTUS, try this on for size,” Titus tweeted with a photo attached.

Meanwhile, a few fashion brands are capitalizing on the opportunity to make a positive statement and raise awareness. Lingua Franca and Wildfang, two smaller brands, created literally caring pieces that donate proceeds to RAICES. RAICES provides pro bono/low-cost legal and education services for U.S. immigrants.
The general public alongside high-profile comedians and actors are responding to the first lady’s outfit choice as well. Actress Busy Philipps tweeted a picture of a shirt she made that reads “I care. Do u?” She directed her fans to the Families Belong Together homepage to help migrant parents and their children.
Jim Carrey followed suit with a condescending Twitter message for the first family. “Nothing comforts a federally-abducted refugee child like a photo op with a Slovenian model wearing a coat that says she doesn’t give two craps about your misery,” he said.

While a Republican close to the Trumps called it ‘revisionist history’

A Republican close to the White House — and the situation — sent a note to CNN calling Trump’s tweet about the coat “revisionist history.” The Republican remains supportive of the administration but expressed his skepticism of the administration’s emotionally inept media relationship.

The Republican said there was a damage-control meeting among the communications staff after the incident. He cited conversations with West Wing personnel who “were proud of themselves” for the devised explanation of the coat that the president tweeted out.

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