Opinion Column

Hurricane high heels: First Lady forced to wear husband’s politics

By Ada Slivinski, 24 Hours Vancouver

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Bergstrom international airport in Austin, Texas on Aug. 29, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at Bergstrom international airport in Austin, Texas on Aug. 29, 2017. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

This week, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump wore black stilettos to board a plane and the Twitter world was immediately offended.

"Why heels and not rubber boots?" they asked.

First of all, anyone who’s spent eight hours on a plane knows rubber boots aren’t the best choice of footwear. She changed into more practical white sneakers when they actually hit the ground in Texas.

First Ladies are an extension of their husbands. I get the sense it’s not actually Melania's shoes people are upset with but her husband’s narcissism during a natural disaster.

Throughout Barack Obama’s two terms in office, Michelle Obama wore a litany of expensive designer pieces, including those of Oscar de la Renta, Marchesa, Christian Serrano and Proenza Schouler, but the reaction was different. Her fashion choices were neatly chronicled by the likes of TIME magazine and InStyle.

A New York University Professor ran a study on Michelle Obama’s effect on fashion brands and had it published in the Harvard Business Review under the title, “How This First Lady Moves Markets.”

In fact, the J.Crew Downtown Field jacket she wore to tour the Wicklow Mountains looked so good I bought one in the same colour for myself – even though I may not have agreed with every decision her husband made.

It’s much easier for people to criticize fashion choices when it’s actually politics they disagree with. Or, in the case of First Ladies, their husband’s politics.

Imagine that FLOTUS hat on Michelle Obama – H&M would be rushing to make a replica and Twitter would be abuzz about how hip she is.

Out of touch is the most frequent criticism we hear when women in politics dress well. It was the chorus when Hillary Clinton wore a $12,495 Armani jacket during a speech about inequality.

The difference? In Melania's case, she’s not the one who jumped into politics. She’s just along for the ride.

Trevor Noah may have said it best on Tuesday’s Daily Show.

“I don’t know why anyone should care what anyone wears when they’re on their way to help people,” Noah said. “People were like, ‘Why is she wearing those heels when she’s going to help people?’ Who cares? Look at the Pope. You see how he dresses? Look at that! All white with giant bling? He looks like he’s going to a P. Diddy party. But we don’t say, ‘Hey, you can’t go out helping people dressed like that.”