An exasperated Melania Trump told reporters, ‘I wish people would focus on what I do and not what I wear’, which is easier said than done. Just the day before the First Lady of the United States wore a white pith helmet - a symbol of colonial rule - while visiting a wildlife trust in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of a multi-country tour of Africa.
With very little practical purpose, the hat in question is a funny choice. With a rounded crown and wide brim, it was de rigueur of colonialists, both the gentleman and the military kind. The British army favoured these as helmut on battlegrounds in Africa and India. Soon after it became fashionable with the leisure class who used capitalism to colonialise Africa, as depicted by Meryl Streep in ‘Out of Africa’.
While no one is certain that Melania was fully cognisant of the hat’s history it follows a narrative the FLOTUS has created of overshadowing her public appearances with an insensitive sartorial choice. First, she offended by wearing a pair of designer stilettos to visit the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
Next, she caught flack for wearing a Zara parka with the words ‘I really don’t care, do u?’ scrawled on the back to a tender age detention centre, amidst mass criticism of Trump's zero tolerance family separation policy. Although her spokesperson said there was 'no hidden message' with her fashion choice, her husband appeared to disagree:
And now, this. Melania may want to be judged for more than just her fashion choices - of which is the right of everyone - but the consistency of her egregious ensembles makes me think she really wants the opposite to happen.