The Politics of Fashion: Do U Really Care?


PC: Getty Images

Krysten Heberly

This past week, Melania Trump took the media by storm once again. This time, the outrage of a nation was directed towards a jacket which she wore to visit the detention centers in Texas. The jacket boldly claimed, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” The real message behind the jacket has not been revealed by Melania, however, it seems likely that those callous words were aimed at an audience of one: Donald Trump.

The clothing choices of the First Lady have always been painfully scrutinized by the media. Melania would be well aware of this, especially after she was criticized for wearing a pair of python Manolo Blahnik stilettos to visit victims of Hurricane Irma last year. Her clothing choices are under constant scrutiny, and there are entire teams picked out to create a look which best represents the interests of the party and of the nation.

The East Wing communications director, Stephanie Grisham claimed “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.” Yet, it seems obvious that the jacket was more of a symbol than an article of clothing.

Melania Trump’s entire adult life has seemed to revolve around the fashion industry. As a former supermodel, she knows better than most the power which an outfit can hold. Her outfits throughout her time as First Lady indicate this knowledge, from the cherry blossom adorned looks she wore as she accompanied her husband throughout Asia, to the white Dior pantsuit she wore to State of the Union address – a color which has long been associated with women’s suffrage, Melania is very in-tune to what her look represents.

Even more, the infamous jacket was last season Zara and retailed at $39. Zara is a mass-marketed clothing brand, a stark difference from the previous fashion choices worn by the current first lady, who has – until now – been pictured almost exclusively in luxury brands such as Balmain and Michael Kors. It seems doubtful that she would wear such a thing out of sheer convenience.

The clothing choice has been labeled by some as being “tone-deaf”, and as being a bad judgment call by not only Melania Trump but also by her Public Relations staff who allowed this to take place. This still seems unlikely. Melania Trump has spoken out against the immigration camps in Texas previously, and her visit this past week was entirely her idea. The issues she has addressed as First Lady have seemed to revolve around the rights and well-being of children.

It should also be noted that she did not wear the jacket to visit the children, only to board the plane.

Whether the message was directed towards the media or towards her husband is unclear, but the politics of the jacket should not be overlooked. In the wake of some pretty serious allegations of abuse and human rights violations taking place in these camps, wearing a jacket with such a statement was sure to start a firestorm. The denial of the politics behind the outfit by both Melania’s PR staff and by her husband also seems to indicate that this was a rogue decision meant to start a discussion.

Melania Trump’s jacket will likely go down in history as a remarkable outfit. Yet, the jacket is only meant to create a discussion which we should have already been having.  It was obviously not just a jacket, but a political statement meant to make us think about the injustices currently taking place in Texas. We should not get bogged down in the fashion, but rather the politics. Afterall, very few seem to actually care. Do you?

Categories: Opinions, Uncategorized

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