Vogue’s “Fashion Muse” Lynn Yaeger (see photo below) saw a photograph of First Lady Melania Trump boarding a Houston-bound plane in stiletto heels and made a major thing out of it.
This morning, Mrs. Trump boarded Air Force One wearing a pair of towering pointy-toed snakeskin heels better suited to a shopping afternoon on Madison Avenue or a girlsâ€™ luncheon at La Grenouille.
While the nation is riveted by images of thousands of Texans wading with their possessions, their pets, their kids, in chest-high water, desperately seeking refuge; while a government official recommend that those who insist on sheltering in place write their names and social security numbers on their arms, Melania Trump is heading to visit them in footwear that is a challenge to walk in on dry land.
A spokesperson says she has other shoes to change into on the planeâ€”and one sincerely hopes there is a pair of leopard-print Wellies-in-waiting to get her from the tarmac to the limo. But 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?
And why, oh why, canâ€™t this administration get anything, even a pair of shoes, right?
Melania Trump is the kind of woman who travels to a flood-ravaged state in a pair of black snakeskin stilettos. Heels this high are not practical. But Trump is not the kind of woman who has to be practical. Heels this high are not comfortable. Comfort is not the point. Neither hers nor yours.
Trump is the kind of woman who knows that when she walks from the White House to Marine One there will be photographers, and so she will dress accordingly. On this soggy Tuesday morning, she wore her stilettos with a pair of cropped black trousers and an Army-green bomber jacket. Her hair was nicely blown out, and she was wearing a pair of sunglasses though it was overcast and drizzly at the time. As she walked to the chopper, she glanced toward a camera, and the photographer captured her with one hand in her pocket, her weight shifted slightly to one leg. She looked great.
Trumpâ€™s fashionable ensemble was defined by its contradictions. She was wearing a working manâ€™s jacket but it was juxtaposed with sexy limousine shoes. The trousers and the top were basic black â€” utilitarian. The oversize aviator sunglasses were Hollywood. Itâ€™s an image that would have been at home in any fashion magazine, which is so often the case with the first lady. …
It was also an image that suggested that Trump is the kind of woman who refuses to pretend that her feet will, at any point, ever be immersed in cold, muddy, bacteria-infested Texas water. She is the kind of woman who may listen empathetically to your pain, but she knows that you know that she is not going to experience it. So why pretend?
Well, sometimes pretense is everything. Itâ€™s the reason for the first lady to go to Texas at all: to symbolize care and concern and camaraderie. To remind people that the government isnâ€™t merely doing its job, that the government is engaged with each and every individual. Washington hears its citizens. Thatâ€™s what the optics are all about. Sitting around a conference table and talking into a speaker phone are not good optics. A politician has to get on the ground in work boots and a windbreaker. Rolled-up sleeves. Galoshes. Baseball caps.
Maya Singer has penned for Vogue the sixth of a twelve-part series celebrating the legacy of Barack Obama. This installment focuses on the hermeneutics of Obama’s “mom jeans.”
Picture Barack Obama and what comes to mind is an elegant man, immaculate in a suit, or Old Hollywood suave swanning into a gala in a tuxedo with Michelle on his arm. Heâ€™s a guy who comprehends the fit and flair of clothes. But heâ€™s also a guy who wears mom jeans. What Iâ€™m trying to say is: The genius of Barack Obama is that he contains multitudes.
Iâ€™ve always liked listening to Obamaâ€™s press conferences. In that setting, taking questions on the fly, you can observe his mind working. He turns the queries over, inspecting each one for opportunities and traps, and then, crafting his replies, carefully considers every word. Each one. Words you hear a lot from Obama are â€œprocessâ€ and â€œsystematicâ€ and â€œmethodicalâ€â€”and no matter what heâ€™s talking about, those words have generally brought me comfort, for they reassure me that the ship of state is in a rigorous manâ€™s hands. But Obamaâ€™s rigor has occasionally brought me frustration, too. There have been times Iâ€™ve wanted him to let loose, lose his cool, shout back at those people who have made it their mission to delegitimize and stymie him. And on policy grounds, too, I have wished at times that heâ€™d chart a more radical course. But wishing isnâ€™t the same as knowing what that would look like, or how or whether it would work. And thatâ€™s stuff I have no doubt Obama has thought through.
And not just thought through, but thought through in a particular way. Obamaâ€™s is a sympathetic rigorâ€”warm and encompassing, rather than clinical. In a recent interview, Zadie Smith reportedly spoke about relating to Barack Obama not as a politician, but as a writer, and that statement clarified for me what I like about how he thinks. Obama governs the way the great humanist novelists of the 19th century wrote, drawing back to see the whole large canvas and the historical and structural forces converging on it at a particular time, then zooming in for close-ups on the people buffeted by those forces as they try, the best way each of them knows how, to lead meaningful, honorable lives. I imagine that Obamaâ€™s pragmatism is born out of his desire to soften the worldâ€™s blows for as many of those people as possible, knowing all the while that there are things even he, the most powerful man in the world, canâ€™t in an instant change.
He sees big and he sees small. He sees compassionately, and in order to do thatâ€”in order to think like a novelistâ€”you have to contain multitudes.
My own view is that nobody over 30 who is not engaged in real manual labor ought ever to be seen wearing blue jeans, the Mom variety or otherwise.
It is also, I think, alarming evidence of the dominanting influence of the LGBT subculture on the thinking of the community of fashion that the ironical appreciation of the dear leader’s transgressively unappealing denim trousers can be spun out into a grand encomium for his philosophy of governance. The sexually perverse have a penchant for irony and for the facile promotion of the insignificant and trivial to the plane of high cultural discourse.
Vogue [now] has a woman who rightfully declares that her appearance, with all of its perceived imperfections, shouldn’t be hidden and doesn’t need any fixing. Lena Dunham has spoken out, frequently, about society’s insane and unattainable beauty standards. Dunham embraces her appearance as that of a real woman; she’s as body positive as they come. But that’s not really Vogue’s thing, is it? Vogue is about perfection as defined by Vogue, and rest assured that they don’t hesitate to alter images to meet those standards. It doesn’t matter if any woman, including Lena, thinks she’s fine the way she is. Vogue will find something to fix.
To be very clear: Our desire to see these images pre-Photoshop is not about seeing what Dunham herself “really” looks like; we can see that every Sunday night or with a cursory Google search. She’s everywhere. We already know what her body looks like. There’s nothing to shame here. Nor is this rooted in criticism of Dunham for working with Vogue. Entertainment is a business, after all, and Vogue brings a level of exposure that exceeds that of HBO.
This is about Vogue, and what Vogue decides to do with a specific woman who has very publicly stated that she’s fine just the way she is, and the world needs to get on board with that. Just how resistant is Vogue to that idea? Unaltered images will tell.
$10,000 works. Jezebel reports: “Within two hours of offering $10,000 for unretouched images from Annie Leibovitz’s photography session with the HBO star, we received six allegedly unaltered images.”
The elephant (sorry, Lena!) in this room of rage is that, letâ€™s face it, Lena Dunham really isnâ€™t that pretty.. Even glammed up for Vogue, those monster thighs lobster-clawing the neck of the guy whoâ€™s bearing her on his shoulders really do have some â€œperceived imperfections.â€ The best that you say about Dunham is that she has nice hands and wouldnâ€™t be too bad-looking if she lost a few and paid a visit to Dr. Tattoff.
But nobody can say thatâ€“because â€œbody positivityâ€â€“considering yourself a raving beauty no matter how much you weigh or what you actually look likeâ€“is a central tenet of feminism. Thatâ€™s apparently why Dunham gets naked in nearly every episode of Girls, why Jezebel is going all pious (itâ€™s Vogueâ€™s fault!), and why Slateâ€™s Katy Waldman feels compelled to call Dunham â€œlovelyâ€:
Jez is not trying to expose Dunhamâ€”itâ€™s continuing its crusade against the fashion magazines that make us all feel like crap and have, in many ways, contributed to a pop culture in which Dunhamâ€™s perfectly lovely physique is so outside the norm.
Yes, the point of fashion magazines is to â€œmake us all feel like crap.â€ Thatâ€™s why Vogue has 1.3 million subscribers. But letâ€™s go on pretending.
Attention, bitter clingers leading out-of-it lives in fly-over states, It’s not too late! Vogue editrix-in-chief Anna Wintour is descending from Olympus to offer you a (very, very small) chance to rub elbows with her and other prominent fashionistas at an Obama Campaign fundraising dinner being held at Sarah Jessica Parker’s Manhattan manse. All you have to do is donate $15 (or more) to the 2012 Obama Re-election Campaign.
Alas! The economy is so bad that you probably don’t have $15 to spare. You probably don’t read Vogue. And many of you hopeless hillbillies out there may not even have heard of Anna Wintour.
This trailer for the 2006 film “The Devil Wears Prada,” in which Meryl Streep plays a slightly fictionalized version of La Wintour, will serve as a quick introduction.