Melania Trump shocks the world wearing a colonial helmet in Kenya.

For her first major solo international trip, similarly to her predecessors, Melania Trump flew to the African continent. During 5 days she visited Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt with the objective to promote USAIDS projects. She also came with the intention of improving the relationship between Africa and her husband as the latter, earlier on this year, allegedly described African countries as “sh*tholes”.

Melania Trump in Kenya [White House photography]
Mission accomplished in Nairobi National Park with her white Pith Helmet, a significant symbol of oppression and colonialism. Originally designed to protect the skin from the sun and from tropical diseases, it used to be worn by Colonial officials, soldiers, missionaries and more generally white westerners in Africa, Southeast Asia and the tropics. The visit took place at Nairobi National Park, a popular tourist area that usually attracts privileged Westerners, making the situation even worse for Melania Trump.

Her white Pith Helmet – a significant symbol of oppression and colonialism.

Recalling colonial memories in such an occasion is completely inappropriate and insensitive coming from the first lady of the United States. The African countries were welcoming Mrs Trump as their equals while she manifested her sense of superiority through this colonial helmet. Her actions have been described by Kim Yi Dionne, an African politics expert at UC Riversides as a “reflection of her out-dated understanding of Africa”. The message given by Melania Trump wearing a pith helmet is totally contradictory to her so-called will to appease the relationship with Africa and the United States. For that reason, she is completely discrediting herself.

It happens that the ex-model has taken a habit of carrying out her thoughts through fashion. One of the most broadcasted time was when she decided to wear a Zara jacket with “I really don’t care, do you?” written on the back, while visiting a children’s shelter on the US-Mexico border. Once again, very insensitive. She first affirmed that no specific messages were given by this piece of clothing and that it was just a jacket. Some journalists suspected her of wearing this jacket to irritate her husband. However, later on, she came back on her actions in an ABC News exclusive interview, and she admitted that there was indeed a message, not targeting the kids but the left-wing politicians which are criticising her. This was peculiar timing for such a message to be conveyed.

One of the most broadcasted time was when she decided to wear a Zara jacket with “I really don’t care, do you?” written on the back

Melania Trump has been interrogated about her unusual choice of accessories in Africa. She replied, “I want to talk about my trip not what I wear”. Yet again, why choose a hat with such a strong connotation if she really just want to focus on her trip’s objective? What is Melania Trump trying to achieve in wearing the Pith helmet?

There are different interpretations of Mrs trump’s action, but thinking she wasn’t aware of the consequences of her actions is not one of them. Is she trying to shock and create polemics to be spoken about and raise more attention towards herself and her husband? Is she subtly trying to deviate the audience’s attention from more dramatic subjects? Or last interpretation, is she trying to ensure the white supremacist electorate’s support? It’s hard to tell.

Melania Trump wearing pantsuit popularised by Hilary Clinton

On top of that, what are her political advisors doing? Melania Trump has a personal fashion advisor Hervé Pierre who also designed clothes for other first ladies such as Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hilary Clinton. She has about ten people surrounding her in her everyday life to give her advice about her image. How could they let her wear such connoted pieces of clothing? Hervé Pierre affirms he was not aware of Melania’s decision to wear the Zara jacket, he said he had in fact never seen it before and he has made no comment about the pitch helmet yet. Her entourage describes Melania Trump as determinate and stubborn, so perhaps she hadn’t solicited her advisors’ opinion.

Whatever her motivations, look out for her next public appearance, her clothes will probably be delivering their own message.

 

 

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