America feels like an orphan without the first lady in the White House. Melania Trump — aka Knauss — has been silent for two weeks. She left the nation’s capital the day after the inauguration, and — according to White House correspondents — never came back, as if she wanted to give her husband space. After all, he is all over the place, and in his frenzied manifestation of power, he likely never has time for her. Except that the official explanation for why she is staying in New York is her pre-teen son, Barron, who attends school in New York. Of course, there’s much more to the story, and there are also doubts about young Barron’s health. But it could also be that the couple wants to have some distance from each other, which I find healthy.
That is, if it weren’t for the fact that America needs a first lady in the White House — and that, after a couple weeks of the new presidency, the country has already gotten tired of the omnipresent president.It’s just not sexy. So where is Melania, millions of people are asking? What is she doing? These questions seem to weigh particularly heavily because nobody knows what to think of Melania yet. Do they love her? Do they care at all about her? Americans need the first lady — or at least a story about her. But “with no pictures, there is no story” has become one of the unwritten rules of the digital age of journalism. So, to feed the starved nation, the media had to go to archive images, taking a deep look at the last available photos and videos of Melania and her husband. It was in this way that a video from the inauguration was discovered. As Melania stood behind her husband on the balcony of the Capitol, the video shows her smiling dearly to her husband when he turns to her. But just a second later, when Trump turns away again, her face drops into a scowl. This video went viral, creating an impression of the presidential couple’s relationship as being troubled. No science is needed to see that. Especially when one has a chance to see the Obamas and the Trumps next to each other. The Trumps were so sad-looking that one might think that it was them — and not the Obamas — leaving the White House.
However, after an analysis of the aforementioned images, more work has been done, and more images have surfaced that show Mr. Trump’s rudeness towards his wife. Stories like this one have been reproduced in almost every news source. The result of this is increased compassion for the first lady, as well as an initiative called Free Melania. The story has outgrown the initial curiosity and need for more White House gossip. Probably against her will, Melania has become a symbol of the resistance against Donald Trump, justified by disturbing images like those in this video. These images add to what the public already knew about Trump as a bully and bigot. So it’s only logical that the massive crowds that marched against the president on his first day in office embraced Melania as a vehicle of their hatred towards Donald Trump.
While there are things that one might not like about Melania’s past, the development of events put the new first lady in a difficult and embarrassing situation. On the one hand, she probably feels good with all these manifestations of compassion. And yet, what she can do? She obviously is not ready to make the jump, but if she were, she would immediately become the Jeanne D’Arc of the movement. She could do it, but it is evident that she will not, since everything I learned about her tells me that she is not a rebel.
There are two more fragments I would like to add to this story, though. First, if you look at the video from the inauguration, you will see another detail that is telling. Look at the left side of the image. You can see Trump’s daughter Ivanka standing behind Melania. She, too, gives her father a large smile when he faced her. In fact, Melania and Ivanka’s smiles are professional and circumstantial. Ivanka does something more, though. She lifts her two eyebrows, launching a seductive signal to her father. She makes an effort to ensure that her father notices this. And then, when her father turns away, Ivanka’s face — like Melania’s — drops, too.
Then the last detail among the images that have been scrutinized endlessly during Melania’s absence from the White House: her dance partner on the night of the inauguration. This officer not only dances better (much better) than the current president of the United States but is also young and kind. Look at Melania. It was the first time in years that Melania looked so happy. It was telling — and something to be remembered.