Authenticity. That makes Melania Trump more like Kim K than Jackie O.
Look, this isn’t Earth-shattering stuff. It only matters to women like me who enjoy culture, and actually look up to folks with a shred of decency.
Let’s start with the most obvious differences.
Jackie doesn’t have nude photos floating in the ether, and she would be appalled at the thought of it. (Settle down, anti-slut shame feminists, there’s still something to be said about demureness and women who don’t put themselves out there, whether you like it or not.) Let’s be honest. There are some women (many college-educated) who would never let you see underneath their clothes for other than a (very reserved) bathing suit. Because they care about how you perceive them. They want to direct your mind to their intellect, and their mystique lies in what you cannot see. Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton. Laura Bush. Nancy Reagan. Queen Elizabeth. Princess Diana. In other words, a First Lady.
Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in their artificial similarities– the similar outfits, side-swept hair, married to men with money, love of expensive fashion, soft-spoken voices, the poise and posture of a dutiful little wifey.
But the most important difference is this: Authenticity and substance. Jackie had it, and Melania seems satisfied to simply mimic it.
“I read it once over, and that’s all because I wrote it with as little help as possible.”
Melania Trump on writing a speech actually written by former First Lady Michelle Obama
Could you imagine Jackie Kennedy ever plagiarizing another first lady’s speech at a major public event, and then lying about writing it herself? Jackie would never have needed to. The icon was capable of forming her own thoughts.
Jackie was flawed. The point of this writing is not to put her on a pedestal and trash Melania. It’s to point out that Jackie was strategically authentic in a way Melania almost refuses to. That’s significant, because Jackie was clever enough to know folks need to feel connected to the people in power.
It’s hard to tell what Melania Trump knows since everything she does is canned. They say she speaks several languages. We wouldn’t know since we haven’t heard it. Jackie Kennedy actually did speak French, Spanish and Italian, at times for her husband’s campaign to connect with his voters. President Lyndon Johnson actually considered making Jackie U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. While Melania did enter a college, all we know about her so far is that she enjoys being rich. It’s hard to know who she is outside of photo ops and ritzy events.
Jackie Kennedy had depth. A personality. Photos of Jackie tell a thousand words– how much she loved JFK, that she could hold a hell of a conversation in just five minutes, and she was well-read and well-written. You can see her emotion, spirit and easiness with people. She comes across as a relatable woman with real problems, and her face is rarely freeze-framed. Sometimes her hair is windblown and imperfect, and one of her kids might be doing something spontaneous, and you can tell she’s comfortable with it. Whatever one thought about Jackie, it was clear she used her womanhood to elevate the Kennedy presidency.
Jackie was a master at making herself seem like she was one of us. Melania might actually want us to know she’s not one of us.
Melania Trump seems to always be staged, wherever she is. All the way down to her being a mother, the way she appears at Donald’s side, and how she interacts with people. She always looks like she’s posing. Aloof. Standoffish. Bothered. Never like she’s truly engaged, or that she even cares to be. Yes, Jackie was also shy. But there’s a difference between shy reserve and what almost seems to be disgust from Melania.
And that’s where Melania’s stilettos she wore right after one of the most epic hurricanes in history become relevant. She didn’t just wear them once. But after everybody gave her hell about it, she wore them again less than a week later. If that wasn’t a big “F_ck you”, I don’t know what is. Melania squashed an opportunity to connect with people the way Jackie did. Jackie would never have cat-walked in four inch snake skins to a natural disaster. People want to know if Melania cares. And it really doesn’t seem she gives a rat’s ass about the American people.
So here’s another theory. Does Melania actually want to be a big time model or actress with a television show? Does Melania even want to be First Lady? My guess is no. Could it be that Melania isn’t interested in heading up any causes, doesn’t want to live in the stuffy White House that even Michelle Obama complained about, and feels like her wardrobe is her top priority?
The problem is not that Melania Trump wore an unsuitable, blithely out-of-touch outfit, although she did. The problem is that this administration turns every event — no matter how dire — into a kind of anesthetized luxury fashion shoot…. –Rhonda Garlick, The Cut
Thoughtless, self-absorbed, lacking in education or substance, in love with her body, overly consumed with her earning potential, and more at ease with showing off. Which wannabe star loves pretending to be classy, rather than actually being classy? Sound familiar?
— Interview Magazine (@InterviewMag) August 28, 2017
Remember, we are living in the Kim Kardashian era. It is perfectly acceptable in these fickle times to pose naked one day and compare oneself to Mother Theresa the next. Materialism, self-promotion and sex appeal are considered more enviable than virtue, education and integrity.
That said, it could actually be the case that Melania is more concerned with being a narcissistic star, not a transformative female leader. Her insistence on choosing today’s narcissism over yesterday’s substance should make people think twice before comparing her with Jackie. But the mere fact that she looks the part could be enough to get her the “Jackie” label now. Sadly.