First Lady of the United States Melania Trump made one of her biggest speeches at the United Nations on Wednesday. The president's wife delivered a lengthy and detailed speech on the perils of bullying in front of her international audience. While addressing her listeners, Melania said, "The future of every nation rests with the promise of their young people." In spite of the content of her speech, some people on the internet mocked Melania's pink dress.
Melania began her speech by focusing on how, in her opinion, the future of a country relies on the prosperity and mirth of its children. While speaking of her own role as the mother to Barron Trump, Melania noted that the future of a nation was only possible if its youth was "happy, productive, and morally responsible adult." Such a young demographic of any nation is often "plagued" by bullies while growing up, according to Melania. The First Lady also told her audience, "No child should ever feel hungry, stalked, frightened, terrorized, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn."
In spite of the gist of her speech — standing up to bullies — the core focus for some social media users was her hot pink dress. Some users on Twitter likened her dress to the overblown blueberry girl from the 1971 Willy Wonka film, a large-sized snuggie, and a beauty parlor cape while others were merely confused. One asked, "Melania Trump dons oversized hot pink dress at United Nations event in [New York City], but did it distract from her speech on bullying?" In response, some noted that making fun of Melania's dress was bullying her while others claimed that her critics were mocking her English.
As is the tendency on the internet, the line between criticizing Melania for her politics — which is a valid expression as she is a public official — and her clothes — which is a decidedly personal target — becomes blurry. But writers at various news media outlets and magazines have noted a simple thing: It is possible to criticize Melania without becoming vindictive and sexist. It comes down to knowing the difference between holding a public official accountable and being acrimonious about a woman's apparel.
Instead of focusing on her dress, Melania's very own inconsistency on the subject of bullying and countering such social animus found in high schools and even adult professional spaces as well as politics is worth critically looking at. It doesn't take a whole ton of effort to see how the First Lady herself has shown a lack of commitment to the very same ideas of social justice she claims to believe in.
Only three months ago, in June, Melania publicly defended Donald Trump in a statement to CNN after Trump attacked MSNBC's Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski in scathing tweets. Trump said, "I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me ([I] don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
While defending her husband, Melania said, "As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder" according to communications director Stephanie Grisham.
It is this kind of enabling rhetoric coming from the First Lady that should be interrogated critically by the public and brought up on occasions like Wednesday's speech from Melania on bullying and how it distorts stability in a society. A reminder like that can be an opportunity to reflect. Obsessing over a dress kind of misses the bigger problem.