U.S. First Lady Melania Trump flew across the country to visit migrant children housed in a Texas detention centre yesterday, but it was her wardrobe choice that has dominated headlines since then.
Trump was photographed wearing an olive green Zara jacket with the message “I really don’t care, do u?” emblazoned across the back as she boarded her plane at Andrews Air Force Base.
That the First Lady was on her way to visit children separated from their parents and kept in detention centres as a result of her husband’s immigration policy was not lost on people who condemned Trump for being tone deaf at best.
Her press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement to reporters that there was no message hidden in the jacket.
“It’s a jacket,” she said.
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
But the fact that Trump — who is photographed almost everywhere she goes — chose to travel in the $39 fast fashion jacket rather than her usual designer threads seems to be a statement on its own.
Here are some of the theories that have made the rounds online and in the news since the photos first came to light.
It’s directed at the children of the migrant crisis
Many of the strongest reactions to the jacket take its message at face value to mean Melania Trump wants the world to know she doesn’t actually care about the crisis.
“We get it Melania. You and your husband don’t care! You don’t need to wear a jacket that tells us that!! Most of us DO care! Most of us do have a heart,” Twitter user, @marydavy said.
Before day’s end, photos of people wearing shirts and jackets with text reading “I care” and” I really do care, do u?” were emerging on social media. By Friday morning, retailers were selling them.
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) June 22, 2018
Late night hosts Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers Trevor Noah and Jimmy Kimmel joined the conversation on Thursday night.
Colbert joked that her first choice was a jacket that said ‘Womp womp,’ in reference to dismissive comments former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski made this week about a 10-year-old with Down Syndrome separated from her parents at the border.
Meyers mocked Grisham’s assertion that there was no message hidden in the jacket.
“Hidden? It was literally spelled out,” he said. “That’s like saying if you play an Aerosmith song forwards, it contains hidden messages about love in an elevator.”
It’s directed at Donald Trump and possibly his administration
Members of the ‘#freemelania camp — those who believe Trump is miserable or afraid, trapped in a marriage to an unfaithful and misogynistic husband — have suggested the message is directed toward Trump and/or his administration.
“As much as I despise the Trump family, has any1 addressed the possibility Melania’s jacket was a message to her hound-dog, p****-grabbing, con-man, showman, lying shyster husband?” asked Twitter user @bluestategranny. “I bet he lost his mind when she wanted to go to Texas!”
Trump did show what appeared to be mild objection to the administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy earlier in the week, issuing a statement that said she “hates to see children separated from their families” and that America needs to be a “country that governs with heart.”
It’s directed at the “Fake News Media”
In direct contradiction to her press secretary’s claims that Trump’s decision to wear the jacket on her trip was a meaningless coincidence, her husband Donald Trump said in a Tweet Thursday evening that the message was aimed toward the “Fake News Media.”
If it was an accident that she wore it on her way to Texas, it can’t have been an accident that she wore it on her way back, after a day of speculation and condemnation about it. Although while many media outlets reported on the jacket, much of the speculation and condemnation came from regular people, online.
“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
It really is “just a jacket”
Finally, there is the possibility that it really never occurred to Trump that people would try to parse out the meaning of the jacket’s message.
After all, the Washington Post reports statement fashion is popular right now, and no one is suggesting there was a hidden message in her decision to wear Manolo Blahnik pumps to the Hurricane Harvey flood zone.
Still, the possibility that it was just a style-driven decision made in poor taste doesn’t free the First Lady from accusations that it was a “shameful, heartless and sick” thing to do, in the words of Twitter user @lupesiddarth.
What do you think? Was there an underlying meaning to the jacket? Who was it directed toward? Or do you think it was a tone-deaf mistake. Let us know by answering our poll above or have your say in the comments below.