First Lady Melania Trump’s fashion choices have sparked a buzz again after she stepped out in front of the press on Friday while in Nairobi, Kenya, fully dressed to the nines for her visit at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Trump was wearing long khaki pants tucked into equally long, brown leather riding boots, a crisp white shirt that was rolled at the sleeves and, the pièce de resistance, a pith helmet.
The clothing could have set Trump up nicely in any kind of cosplay situation, or you know, in any movie featuring colonizers, and that’s exactly where people took issue. The hat really, was what sent it over the edge.
The hat was widely used by European militaries in their colonies throughout Africa and in India, according to Gentleman’s Gazette, and became a popular sun hat for civilian Europeans visiting or living in colonies in the 1930s. US President Theodore Roosevelt wore his pith helmet while on the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition after his presidency in 1909.
— Matt Carotenuto (@matt_carotenuto) October 5, 2018
The Guardian described the helmet as “a symbol of colonial rule across Africa,” and “a symbol of status – and oppression.”
— pauleenmwalo (@pauleenmwalo) October 5, 2018
Whether or not Melania knew of the symbolism of the helmet, or whether she thought she was just committing to a “look” is anyone’s guess.
Nonetheless, the first lady is apparently very frustrated about people discussing her clothes.
“You know what, we just completed an amazing trip, we went to Ghana, we went to Malawi, we went to Kenya, here we are in Egypt,” she told reporters according to the Independent. “I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear. That’s very important what I do, what we’re doing with USAID and what I do with my initiatives.”
— The Hill (@thehill) October 7, 2018
“I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear,” she added.
Still, the first lady’s fashion choices really do leave you wondering sometimes if she really cares (or if she’s even aware) about the message she’s sending.
Who can forget when she took a trip to the US-Mexico border to visit detained immigrant children wearing her infamous “I really don’t care. Do u?” jacket?
That statement piece caused a flurry of backlash, because, you know, she was visiting detained children, in the midst of her husband’s administration’s aggressive policies that separated families and thought it appropriate to wear a jacket about not caring.
Alas, she’s back at it again, and none the wiser, or perhaps she does know what she’s doing and just doesn’t really care.