Hats are fun, no? They can add a stylish finishing touch to an outfit, express your loyalty to a certain sports team, or in the case of Melania Trump, make everyone wonder if you're super-into racist cosplay. Never one to admit her sometimes demonstrative outfits intend to send any messages, she spent Friday and Saturday wearing ensembles that, had she just skipped the hats, might not have caused the Internet to call her out for looking like a First Lady-shaped dog whistle.
On Saturday, Trump visited Egypt as the last stop on a week-long African tour. When photos of her posing in front of the pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza were released, almost immediately, people began mocking her for what she wore: a crisp shirt with a pointed collar, a tie, a khaki blazer, and an off-white fedora with a black band. Although there's nothing intrinsically wrong with any of those items, Twitter users couldn't help but notice the getup looked a whole lot like the outfit Nazi-sympathizing character René Belloq wore — yes, in Egypt — in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Comedian Rob Delaney is credited with bringing a ton of attention to the similarities, tweeting, "It is funny that she’s cosplaying as a Nazi who literally gets melted by god at the end of a good movie." Others chimed in, with one Twitter user saying, "Is it too on the nose to say that Melania looks like the other archeologist in Indiana Jones that goes and sides with the Nazis." Another wrote, "Today's dog whistle: Melania Trump dressed as one of the Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark," another says. Another Twitter user suggests it's nearly impossible to pay attention to anything she may be doing on her tour because "she’s literally wearing the same outfit as Rene Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark."
It is funny that she’s cosplaying as a Nazi who literally gets melted by god at the end of a good movie pic.twitter.com/4PEPlNXCej
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) October 6, 2018
Today's dog whistle: Melania Trump dressed as one of the Nazis from Raiders of the Lost Ark. pic.twitter.com/0r6d4Qz2Hf
— Middle Age Riot (@middleageriot) October 6, 2018
99.99999% of the time I’d agree but she’s literally wearing the same outfit as Rene Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark, so… https://t.co/v9EjgxfjZz
— coach steve snorlax (@SSFCSnorlax) October 7, 2018
And while, yes, it also kind of resembles Michael Jackson’s outfit from the "Smooth Criminal" video, it’s hard not to see it in a more dog-whistly way when you consider that, just the day before, Trump made another questionable sartorial choice that at best could be considered ignorant. While in Kenya, she was seen wearing a pith helmet — one that very closely resembles those worn by colonial British soldiers in 19th-century Africa. Not a good look. For anyone. But especially for the wife of a president who has referred to African nations as "shithole countries," among other racially insensitive remarks.
"That Pith helmet you have carried was used by colonialists during the dark days. Doesn't sit well with us Africans. Who advised you?" one person wrote on Twitter. Kim Yi Dionne, an assistant professor specializing in African politics at University of California Riverside, tweeted, "Melania Trump wearing a pith helmet on her trip to "Africa" is more than a silly sartorial choice. It's a reflection of her outdated understanding of Africa."
When asked about people's commentary on her outfits, Trump told The Washington Post, "I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear." However, in the context of her husband being widely condemned for numerous statements and policies seen as being aligned with white supremacy, what you wear is arguably part of what you do. And it undoubtedly plays an enormous role in how you're seen, beyond whether or not it's chic.
But considering this isn't the first time Trump's clothing has seemingly sent a political message — who can forget the suspiciously timed pussy-bow blouse or horrifyingly tone-deaf "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" jacket — one thing is clear: If she’s not trolling us with her outfits, her stylist almost certainly is.
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