Standing at almost 5’10” in my stocking feet, I’ve never been much for wearing high heels. I feel freakishly tall in them, but that’s never stopped me from envying women who can pull off towering pumps and sandals—particularly the sexy, spiky kind—because it is much harder than it looks. Gracefully navigating sidewalks, stairs, and dance floors on six-inch needles requires a type of agility and confidence—not to mention sobriety—few women possess altogether and at once.
So perhaps that’s why the claws came out at the sight of Melania Trump’s stilettos Tuesday morning. The first lady boarded Air Force One to travel to Houston wearing snakeskin heels, black ankle pants and an Army-green bomber jacket. When I saw her, I thought, “Wow, she looks amazing.” Because she did.
Others did not share my admiration. The Mean Girls of Social Media quickly took the first lady to task for her inappropriate footwear. How could she wade through chest-high water to rescue abandoned dogs at Texas trailer parks in a pair of Louboutins? Holly O’Reilly, organizer of the MarchforTruth, which is pushing the Trump-Russia election collusion conspiracy, weighed in shortly after Air Force One took off:
And here we have Melania Trump modeling what NOT to wear to a hurricane: 5-inch stilettos.
How out of touch can you be? pic.twitter.com/tZR8o3dYxY
— Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) August 29, 2017
Elizabeth Holmes, a former Wall Street Journal style reporter, thought Melania’s fashion choice had some nefarious, underlying meaning.
Even if FLOTUS changes shoes once there, which I'm assuming she will, wearing these stilettos in this moment sends one hell of a message. https://t.co/sEpwCU3dk4
— Elizabeth Holmes (@EHolmes) August 29, 2017
Even Chelsea Handler, who cried on her Netflix show after the election and blubbered about how we all need to be kinder to each other, joined the Twitter pile-on:
Melania taking off for Houston on AF1…in stilettos.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 29, 2017
(Handler later tweeted that Melania put on new shoes after all the Twitter comments and that she “prob spun them out of potus’ wig.”)
OK, so no biggie, a few anti-Trump hags on social media vented their insecure feminine jealousy and post-election anger by making snarky comments about Mrs. Trump’s appearance—something no one was ever supposed to do to Michelle Obama, of course.
But next came the fashionistas. Vogue magazine, which will glamorize Chelsea Manning in its September issue with a glowing profile and pictorial spread, remarking how Manning has “confidence that hits like sunlight at high altitude,” scoffed at Melania Trump’s pumps. In an online article, fashion editor Lynn Yaeger (who will never, ever be mistaken for a supermodel) wondered about the “optics” of it all and “what kind of message does a fly-in visit from a First Lady in sky-high stilettos send to those suffering the enormous hardship, the devastation of this natural disaster?”
Glamour magazine’s Suzannah Weiss posted an article mid-morning that claimed, “people are confused about why she was wearing her signature heels in the first place.” Really? Call me crazy, but I think people are more confused about why jackasses in the media are worried about shoes when folks are drowning and being displaced in America’s fourth largest city.
Kenzie Bryant with Vanity Fair really nailed the importance of the moment with this deep thought: “It’s times like these that what a politicians or their entourage wears matters the least, but ironically, when it matters the most.” Not only is that just a colossally dumb thing to say, but she is referring to the first lady as merely part of the president’s posse. Meow.
OK, so no biggie again, a few liberal fashion-writers got in their political potshots, but surely no legacy media outlet—clinging as they should be to any semblance of credibility—would come so low as to comment on the shoes while a major national crisis is unfolding, right? Wrong. The Washington Post took a brief break from warning us that democracy dies in darkness to shining a much-needed light on Melania’s outfits for the day.
In a bizarre rant disguised as an article, writer Robin Givhan explored the ways in which the first lady’s “fashionable ensemble was defined by its contradictions.” In perhaps her most vapid passage (and, I assure you, there’s plenty of competition), Givhan offers this insight:
Appearance is even more relevant with this first lady. She rarely speaks in public and has yet to make clear precisely what she might do with her time in the White House aside from looking after her young son. And so every time she comes into public view, standing or walking silently alongside her husband, the image becomes a silent expression of intent and self-awareness. These pictures are her legacy.
The first lady’s high heels were on display for roughly 46 seconds early Tuesday morning. While traveling, she changed into more practical—and apparently acceptable—Adidas gym shoes. But that was not enough to absolve her of her original stiletto sin. Givhan continues,
her [later]ensemble was more akin to what one might have expected her to wear for the Hurricane Harvey briefing. Its simplicity and practicality were in sync with the president’s khakis and boots. It was optically optimal. But the chance to tell an uninterrupted narrative of care and concern had already been missed. This was just a costume change for another fashion moment.
New Washington Post slogan: “Democracy dies in Manolo Blahniks.”
The high-heel-is-evil meme has taken hold in the media echo chamber. Earlier this month, Newsweek published a deep dive into why Melania and Ivanka Trump wear high heels, claiming the shoes represent everything “beautiful and horrifying” about them. The problem is that spiky shoes are alluring and sexy (duh, no one wears flip-flops with a negligee) and that means the Trump gals “are just buying into traditional binary views of male and female.” This is totally unacceptable in the sex-is-on-a-spectrum 21st Century.
Melania is beautiful, stylish, graceful, and demure—traits that are anathema to the loudmouth progressive class of political and fashion writers. What galls them even more is she does not care what they think. Ignoring the stiletto snark, the first lady issued a statement late Tuesday: “I want to be able to offer my help and support in the most productive way possible, not through just words, but also action. What I found to be the most profound during the visit was not only the strength and resilience of the people of Texas, but the compassion and sense of community that has taken over the State.”
Once again, the media nags made fools of themselves to everyone except each other. And since it’s 2017, of course the voice of reason had to come from a 1980s, gender-bending icon. Boy George tweeted this Tuesday: “I’m officially against Melania hating!”
I'm officially against Melania hating!
— Boy George (@BoyGeorge) August 29, 2017
Sing it, George. We agree.