Melania Trump's Nude Photos Are The One Thing We Shouldn't Criticize Her For
On Sunday, The New York Post published nude photos of Melania Trump, taken more than two decades ago when she was a professional model, under the cheeky headline "The Ogle Office." I imagine many subscribers were taken aback. I know firsthand that my grandmother certainly was, as she explained to me in mild horror that in Trump's photo, "her hands were over her vagina." The New York Post also published another round of nude photos of Trump on Monday.
My grandmother, like many others, is angry that The Post ran photos which one could — and have — argue are irrelevant and/or inappropriate. For his part, Donald Trump isn't reportedly perturbed or even annoyed at The Post (which endorsed him in April), according to his campaign's senior communication adviser, Jason Miller. He told CNN's Reliable Sources that "There's nothing to be embarrassed about," adding "[Melania's] a beautiful woman."
Even if she weren't a beautiful woman, I believe that Melania and the Trump campaign still wouldn't have anything to be ashamed of — at least, not when it comes to these photos. The bubbling brouhaha over the photos — whether or not it's appropriate for a prospective first lady to come with readily available nude photos, and whether The New York Post should've published the images in the first place — is all a bit baffling to me.
Of course, I understand why there's so much attention being paid to these images. These are naked photos of a woman who could very well be our next first lady, and that irks and/or titillates many Americans. However, among the many, many parts of Melania Trump's life and behavior that should make one question what kind of first lady she would be, her previous career as a professional model who sometimes posed nude isn't one of them. I very much agree with Craig Mazin (Ted Cruz's former college roommate), who tweeted:
Let's recall all the things that are, in fact, highly questionable, disappointing, and offensive about Melania Trump. For one, there was her apparently plagiarized Republican National Convention speech. That wasn't just problematic because the speech appeared to rip off Michelle Obama's at the 2008 DNC, but also because of Trump's inability to own up to the error. Instead, Trump Organization speechwriter Meredith McIver took the heat. At the same time, McIver's statement of apology indicated that the prospective first lady played no small role in the problem:
Over the phone, [Melania] read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech. I did not check Mrs. Obama’s speeches. This was my mistake, and I feel terrible for the chaos I have caused Melania and the Trumps, as well as to Mrs. Obama.
As The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza noted, "whatever the case, McIver’s letter makes clear that it was Melania herself who first lifted Michelle Obama’s language."
A few days after this controversy, it was reported by The Huffington Post that Melania Trump's professional website had scrubbed previous claims about her earning an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. Trump tweeted that the change occurred "because it does not accurately reflect my current business and professional interests."
The New York Times noted that months before this erasure, outlets had already reported that Trump had left college after a year to pursue her modeling career. And by the way, power to her for doing so; but she shouldn't proclaim that she did something wholly different on her professional website.
However, to me, these significant concerns about Trump's honesty are negligible when compared to the serious problems raised by her response (or lack thereof) to antisemitism expressed by her and her husband's supporters. In April, Julia Ioffe wrote a profile of Trump for GQ. Because it painted a less-than-glowing picture of him, Ioffe faced social media backlash from the worst of Trump supporters. It included a barrage of antisemitic death threats. Ioffe told The Guardian, "After a few phone calls like this, with people playing Hitler speeches, and the imagery, and people telling me my face would look good on a lampshade, it’s hard to laugh.” Ioffe ultimately filed a report with the Washington, D.C. police department because she was facing a “threat to kidnap or injure a person,” as The Washington Post reported.
What was Melania Trump's response to all of the vile threats and hate that Ioffe faced? Not only did she not denounce such behavior, but she implied that Ioffe deserved it and brought it upon herself. In an interview with DuJour, Trump said:
I don’t control my fans ... but I don’t agree with what they’re doing. I understand what you mean, but there are people out there who maybe went too far. She provoked them.
There is plenty to criticize about Melania Trump's behavior, but it is ludicrous, and frankly feels antiquated, to consider nude photos a first lady flaw. This "controversy" may be one of the few where I actually am on the side of Team Trump.