Another day, another Trump controversy, and they just keep getting more toxic. Thursday afternoon, Melania Trump headed to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to meet with authorities at a detention center for children separated from their parents when crossing into the United States. While there’s a lot to unpack there, one seemingly-superficial and enraging detail has snatched the spotlight: on the balmy first day of summer, Melania Trump chose to wear an army-style jacket that read “I really don’t care, do u?” to board her plane to Texas.
— Tim Mak (@timkmak) June 21, 2018
Now, Melania is no stranger to having her fashion choices criticised, but it’s usually because they are too expensive for the situation or totally impractical. This one just seems cruel (and like she’s looking for a reaction). The $39 widely-available ZARA jacket seems completely uncharacteristic for a woman who never leaves the White House without being expertly styled in designer couture from head to pointed toe. Or maybe it’s more characteristic than we want to think.
feels like a trivial detail – but unless a journalist/media outlet wants to be labeled as “fake news,” it’s important to note the jacket was only worn by Melania when she boarded the plane. This doesn’t change optics – but it appears she did not wear the jacket in Texas.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) June 21, 2018
Want to reiterate: the temperature in McAllen, Texas yesterday was 82 with humidity in the high 80s, resulting in a “feels like” temp of 90.
Very curious then for Melania Trump to wear the jacket she did.
November is coming.
— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) June 22, 2018
Melania’s surprise trip to the border comes one day after her husband signed an executive order reversing an immigration policy he initiated himself in May that enforced a zero tolerance policy on families crossing into the U.S. at non-designated entry points. After receiving world-wide backlash for the policy — which saw children ripped away from their parents and housed in detention centers with cages — Trump and his administration made every excuse in the book for why it was necessary. When that fooled no one, he made the executive order announcement to appease a base that was slowly turning against him. He could have just ended the enforcement of the policy, but “executive order” sounds way fancier, doesn’t it?
That brings us back to Melania’s jacket. Her spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham was clear that FLOTUS meant nothing by it.
“It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message,” Grisham said in a statement. She also tweeted that the media should be more focused on Mrs. Trump visiting children than on her wardrobe.
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket
— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018
Maybe. But no one was saying there was a “hidden meaning” — it’s out there in plain English for us all to see. Plus, the First Lady is a former model and is known for making statements with her clothing. There is no way that jacket — which was too warm for the weather and too cheap for the wearer — means nothing.
Donald Trump had the same view. He tweeted later in the day, seemingly contradicting Grisham and throwing out another theory: the jacket is a dig at the “Fake News 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018
So maybe Melania is making a statement about being over the mainstream media, or maybe she’s making no statement at all. That didn’t stop the internet and the media from throwing around theories about her motivations. Was it to distract from the fact that she didn’t actually visit a detention center and instead just went to a church shelter? Or divert attention from the fact that POTUS’s executive order doesn’t actually help asylum seekers? Was it a sting operation to get the media to cover her clothes just so Fox News could criticise them for covering her clothes? Was it a message to her husband about Stormy Daniels?
Melania Trump’s Jacket saying “I Don’t Really Care, Do U?” was $39
How many $39 jackets do you think the wife of a supposed billionaire owns?
This was Planned to distract us. I’m nearly certain of it.
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 21, 2018
This is 100% bait. This is an effective strategy to get the media to criticize her wardrobe so that they can criticize the media for criticizing her wardrobe and delegitimize us as fake news. https://t.co/kZHArwtFZW
— Liz Plank (@feministabulous) June 21, 2018
Trump doesn’t want us to realize that Melania probably wore that jacket because of Stormy Daniels— as a big FU to him. That’s the actual hidden message. But this White House is so dysfunctional, nothing at all makes sense any more.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 22, 2018
Sure the jacket’s a distraction but it’s like if they were panning across a Nazi death camp, and then cut to an actual Nazi *giggling* – obviously the camp is the bigger problem but the giggle makes it clear just how fucking sick these people are.
— Emily Flake (@EmilyFlake) June 21, 2018
One journalist used Melania’s apparent apathy to call others to action. Parker Molloy set up the website IReallyDoCare.com to raise awareness and facilitate donations for 14 organizations that are helping immigrants in the United States.
Since Melania Trump’s jacket said “I really don’t care”…
I set up https://t.co/GL1FF0KpBs
Click the link and it’ll take you to a site where you can donate to 14 awesome groups helping immigrants all at once. Feel free to RT if that’s your jam. pic.twitter.com/TPc4y4ZUfh
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) June 21, 2018
Even if there really, truly is no meaning behind Melania’s latest outerwear, at the very least, it means she didn’t care enough to consider how the words would be perceived by the 2,342 children and their families who were separated, detained and may never be reunited with their loved ones because of her husband’s actions.