Of all the hysterias to grip the Twitterverse in recent weeks, the recent frenzy regarding Melania Trump’s choice of footwear while heading off to the hurricane relief zone in Texas has to be tops. You see, Mrs. Trump was wearing a pair of black stilettos and, it seems, for those determined to hate everything Trump, this — and not the devastation of the storm — is beyond all suffering. When Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One today she once again wore stilettos — snakeskin ones at that — which sent a clear message that her critics should not tread on her shoes.
For the fashion challenged, the definition of a stiletto heel is a long, thin, high heel found on some boots and shoes, usually for women. They were so named for their remarkable resemblance to the stiletto dagger. Coco Chanel once said, “A women in good shoes is never ugly.” Melania, once part of the New York runway set brings high fashion standards to the political runway of Washington, D.C. And why not? Like her husband, she understands the importance of the images that archive her every step; that they convey something about her and her position. The New York Times, however, mistakenly asserts that Melania Trump’s past life experiences as a mother, an immigrant, fashion model and entrepreneur “don’t readily translate” to the White House.
Perhaps a review of history is necessary. Might I suggest the bibliography page from the National First Ladies Library? Were all of these women just cookie cutter cut outs? Pre-packaged, just add water, and here’s a First Lady? Interestingly, Jacqueline Kennedy started her first job at the opposite end of the camera as the “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald newspaper and this is how she met her husband. Both of these ladies understood the optics of the camera and the importance of fashion in conveying an image.
Dressed as she was when heading to Texas the first trip, she exuded confidence, even in a precarious situation. Her attire boarding the plane was like something out of Top Gun — a brilliant and, even, lethal combination of the Maverick and Kelly McGinnis characters. To those watching it was an announcement of “We’ve got this,” even as her outfit upon landing — where sneakers and shirt sleeves replaced stilettos and aviator attire — was an announcement of, “Let’s get to work!”
But it seems these sensible messages are lost on the deranged. Why are we talking about shoes when people in Texas have lost their lives, their loved ones, and their worldly possessions?
Since everything that used to be common sense appears now to need an explanation, let me offer one for those perplexed by Mrs. Trump’s shoe choices. Just as there are women who will not be seen in public without makeup, there are some who feel most confident in heels. This is particularly the case, or at least used to be, when the woman in question has some important and official role. Being dressed to the nines never hindered Princess Diana and it certainly does not hinder Melania. If anything it offers hope. This latest attempt to cause class envy and paint Melania Trump as a modern day Marie Antoinette is bogus. Doesn’t the media remember that it is the middle class who sent the Trumps to the White House in the first place? To recap the 2017 election, Texas was declared a red state.
In my own life, I know several women like this. And while I am not one of them, I can appreciate those who chose to (and can!) walk that path. My friend, who is also my realtor, once arrived at my home in stiletto heels and a St. John suit for the purpose of helping me pack. I prefer my Keds and yoga pants for such tasks and at first I thought it was amusing or that perhaps she wasn’t serious about her offer to help. But after several repeat performances, I came to the conclusion that this was her way of showing respect to me as her customer and to herself as a professional. She did the work she came to do and the shoes did not hinder her — which is something I could not have done. I had to respect her for that. Another friend, a professional event planner, glides and floats in her stilettos across ballroom venues in a similar fashion. Just because I can’t do it doesn’t mean I have to scorn those who can. I wish I could! Melania wore the stilettos because she believes her role of First Lady commands it — and she commands attention in that role. Good for her.
Many women who work in metropolitan areas that require walking several blocks and up escalators are expert at performing the great switch from comfort shoes to heels or stilettos while standing on metro platforms, in office lobbies, or even the Halls of Congress. Melania performed her great switch on Air Force One with the world watching. This is an everyday act that most women don’t give a second thought about performing. So why this rush to judge the First Lady?
But suppose Mrs. Trump did not switch from her stilettos to sneakers and chose, like fictional the character Carrie Bradshaw once did, to wear her stilettos in the mud. The fact is, sometimes it is really hard to walk in the First Lady’s shoes. To paraphrase Ms. Bradshaw, “That’s why she needs really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.”
Putting the proverbial shoe on the other foot, suppose she wore sneakers on the walk out to board her flight? Does anyone doubt that this would have drawn negative attention, too? Melania is wise and knows her jealous and shallow critics will judge her and taunt her no matter what she wears. The sweet irony is that she looks great in a black FLOTUS hat or whatever she chooses to wear so there is nothing for reasonable people to criticize. The vultures hate her for this and it is why they seize every opportunity to cackle amongst themselves. It reveals more about them than it does about the First Lady.
While I admit that my philosophy, best summed up by the character Cliff Clavin of the sitcom Cheers, is that “the meaning of life is comfortable shoes” and that I only wear heels when the occasion requires it, I do not feel compelled to judge those who can walk where I fear to tread. There is more than one way of being “comfortable” and, for those of us who can pull it off, comfortable can be from the commanding heights of stilettos. If those are the kind of shoes that make a woman feel most like herself, then her “self” is probably a commanding and interesting sort of person to know. It seems like the “Fake News” wants Melania to wear “Fake Shoes.” When I say fake, I don’t mean knockoffs. They want her to morph into someone else and will not stop badgering her until she does.
Critics trying to disarm the First Lady seem to want to say that Melania Trump lacks understanding both of the American soul and of the American “sole.” But this is absurd. Melania has demonstrated a keen understanding of her role as FLOTUS. The shoe designer Christian Louboutin, whose shoes are a regular part of Melania’s arsenal, is often quoted that a woman should keep her “head, heels, and standards high.” Our FLOTUS has high standards for herself as First Lady. She literally and figuratively puts her best foot forward out of respect for her duties and for her responsibilities to the American people. I admire how Melania steps bravely out onto political runway and the world stage oblivious to those ready to criticize every misstep.
While the New York Times suggests that “muck” only flows from the direction of the White House, I assure you that it flows both ways in Washington, D.C. Just as the “Gadsden Flag” was a warning to the British Empire not to interfere, make no mistake, so on Saturday Melania put on snakeskin stilettos to convey this message to her critics: “Don’t Tread on Me” and F-YOU! Is it any wonder that stilettos —daggers — are her weapon of choice? She is set to crush the heads of the serpents in the swamp that engulfs our nation’s capital even as she made her way back to the literal swamp now swallowing Houston. As for the first swamp, that “muck” was there before the Trumps arrived.