US First Lady Melania Trump departs Andrews Air Rorce Base in Maryland June 21, 2018 wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "I really don't care, do you?" following her surprise visit with child migrants on the US-Mexico border. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Theory: Melania Is a Prisoner in Her Marriage and Uses Clothing to Communicate

But I really don’t care. Do u?
August 17, 2018
4 mins read

On June 21, Melania Trump made one of the biggest fashion faux pas in history. On her way to visit detained children at the Mexican-American border, Trump was photographed boarding the plane in a Zara jacket that had the words “I really don’t care. Do u?” scrawled on the back of it.

Outrage spread around the world as people were left wondering: Is Melania Trump just dangerously oblivious? Or, if not, then what kind of game is she playing at?

Theories as to the jacket’s meaning proliferated online and in the news. President Trump tweeted that his wife’s jacket referred to the media.

“‘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!”

And Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham claimed that the jacket’s “message” was entirely accidental. “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.”

As the offensive jacket was phased out of the news cycle, so too were the theories — until Omarosa Manigault-Newman, former White House aide and “Apprentice” contestant, posited a new explanation in her book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.”

In her book, Manigault-Newman argues that the reluctant first lady is too smart to be making fashion blunders on the grand scale that she is. After all, she is a “student of fashion and a keenly image-conscious woman.” Trump certainly knows what she’s doing every time she gets dressed in the morning.

So Manigault-Newman believes that Trump’s controversial outfit choices are entirely intentional and are carefully selected in order to punish her husband.

“It’s my opinion that Melania was forced to go to the border that day in June, essentially, to mop up her husband’s mess,” Manigault-Newman writes in her book. “She wore that jacket to hurt Trump, setting off a controversy that he would have to fix, prolonging the conversation about the administration’s insensitivity, ruining the trip itself, and trying to make sure that no one asked her to do something like that again. Not that Melania doesn’t have compassion for immigrant children; I’m sure she does. But she gladly, spitefully, wrecked her husband’s directives to make him look foolish.”

However, Manigault-Newman has no idea what message some of Trump’s other offensive outfits might have been conveying to the President.

“Why did she wear a Gucci “pussy bow” pink blouse to the presidential debate immediately after the Access Hollywood bombshell? Did she purposefully wear a Hillary Clinton–esque white pantsuit to Trump’s first State of the Union address? Did she mean to come off as out of touch and tone-deaf by wearing snakeskin stiletto heels to hurricane-ravaged Texas?” Omarosa questions in “Unhinged.”

“The messages behind her style choices aren’t always clear, but they are never accidental. Taken as a whole, all of her style rebellions have served the same purpose, and not only misdirection and distraction — strategies her husband knows all too well.”

So maybe all the fan theories out there about Trump being trapped in her marriage to President Trump are more than just internet memes. Maybe she is signalling to us that she needs our help. Next time, Melania, just wear a jacket that says “SOS” and we’ll know you mean business.

Cameron Andersen, New York University

Writer Profile

Cameron Andersen

New York University
Cultural Anthropology and Gender & Sexuality

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Don't Miss