Should we care about Melania Trump's fashion choices? | The Tylt

Should we care about Melania Trump's fashion choices?

While D.C. was consumed by the drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh, Melania Trump embarked on her first solo trip as first lady. On the weeklong trip, Trump visited Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt. Yet, even though this was a goodwill trip, she courted controversy with a series of colonial-inspired outfits. Trump says the press needs to stop worrying about her clothes. Critics say her outfits are carefully chosen to send a message, which should be acknowledged. What do you think?

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Should we care about Melania Trump's fashion choices?
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Should we care about Melania Trump's fashion choices?
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On the trip, Melania favored cream and white linens, with cuts that called to mind 1940's fashions. 

Comedians were quick to point out that one outfit in particular—which she chose to wear to visit the pyramids—bore a striking resemblance to the outfit worn by the malevolent "Raiders of the Lost Ark" antagonist, René Belloq.

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During an impromptu press conference at the base of the pyramids, the first lady implored members of the media to pay less attention to her clothes and more attention to the work she is doing.

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Critics though, explained that many of the first lady's fashion choices were fraught with significance, specifically calling to mind a bygone era of European colonialism in Africa. Her decision to wear a pith helmet was of most concern to critics and historians. Per NPR

Jason Burke explains in The Guardian that 19th century European explorers and imperial administrators in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East wore pith helmets, which were later incorporated into the uniforms of colonial military officers.
Laura Seay, an assistant professor at Colby College who studies African politics, conflict and development, tells NPR the pith helmet, a thick form of head protection, also came about because of unscientific — and later debunked — theories colonialists had about dangerous radiation in the tropics.
Even before the pith helmet, Seay had started a hashtag — #FLOTUSInAfricaBingo — to note the ways in which she found that Trump was "fulfilling a lot of stereotypes" on her trip.
"The way she's dressed and the activities she's undertaken reflect an outdated view of the continent," Seay says. "It's not a place looking for white saviors in colonial getup. It's a vibrant place where there's all sorts of innovation and creative problem-solving."
#ClothesAlwaysMatter

Academics stated that the first lady's choices played into narratives of the colonial past and were well worth analyzing. 

Kim Yi Dionne, a political-science professor who specializes in African politics at the University of California, Riverside...said that what looked like a quibble over aesthetics was actually a more substantive criticism of the first lady’s understanding of Africa.
“When people think of Africa, they have these standard narratives,” Ms. Dionne said. “Her attire is a signal of her understanding of what Africa is in 2018. It’s tired and it’s old and it’s inaccurate.”
#ClothesAlwaysMatter

Melania Trump has gotten into hot water due to her outfit choices on numerous occasions during her short tenure as the first lady. The most egregious example was her choice to wear a coat reading "I Don't Really Care. Do U?" on a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border at the height of the family separation crisis. Per The New York Times

One common reaction to the jacket was bafflement: What was she thinking? No, really, what was she thinking? Mrs. Trump is a former model with a keen understanding of her own image. She rarely makes an accidental fashion choice.
“Fashion is not by accident with this woman,” Bob Phibbs, the chief executive of the Retail Doctor, a consultancy in New York, said in an interview. “She’s a former model. Every piece of clothing has statement and purpose. She’s all about image, and so is Trump. She knows the power.”
...“It’s never just a jacket,” Mr. Phibbs said.
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The first lady's spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, put out a statement soon after the controversy, stating that it was entirely overblown. 

"It's 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."
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Grisham put out a similar statement after the first lady was criticized for her decision to wear rather glamorous stilettos on a visit to hurricane-ravaged Texas.

“It's sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” the first lady’s Communications Director Stephanie Grisham told Fox News via email.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should we care about Melania Trump's fashion choices?
A festive crown for the winner
#FocusOnPolicy
#ClothesAlwaysMatter