After #PizzaGate and all the nonsense that comes out of Alex Jones' mouth, you'd think America would be a little more careful when it comes to pushing unwarranted rumors online. But, alas, Twitter lit up with the conspiracy theory that Melania Trump uses a body double. While one could generally chalk that up to just the newest internet joke of the day, it's worth considering whether there's actually sexism hiding under the origins of the ridiculous theory.
Some people might think it's fun to laugh about and post memes of fake Melanias. But whether the people who initially posted about the theory are either trolls or bona fide conspiracy theorists, the language that they're using all comes down to scrutinizing a woman's looks.
Responding to a video posted by NBC News of President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, one man wrote:
Is it me or does Melania appear to be a man in drag here with a wig and large sunglasses on. Can only assume she left trump [sic] weeks ago and he hasn’t yet found a way of saying he’s done a great job on the divorce ...I have the best divorce lawyers THE BEST.
The video is of President Trump discussing relief efforts in Puerto Rico as his wife stands beside him. During his speech, he says, "My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here," which had people claiming the woman standing next to him was a "decoy." On one woman's Facebook post, comments ranged from: "Wow. Odd. Wig? Lips? Nose?" to "This woman's nose is thicker and her lips are different, too. Plus, Melanie would never nod her head in rapid succession. And, her lips parted. That was weird!" to even "Drag queen for sure!" (Which, why are people using drag queen as an insult? Also not even a little bit funny.)
This is not the first time a woman in politics has been so scrutinized for looking "different" that they were deemed to be using a body double. As Newsweek pointed out, last year people claimed Hillary Clinton was using a body double because she looked healthier than she should have. Photos of her with and without makeup were posted side-by-side as tweets said things like "Hillary Clinton *kind of* looks like #HillarysBodyDouble, but not really," and "Perhaps #HillarysBodyDouble & Hired medic can follow her around to prop her up..."
A bit of levity is necessary when living in 2017, and while some people posting the meme might not have bad intentions behind it, the language others are using makes it clear that a lot of people have a sexist intent. People are so intensely judging Melania Trump's face and hair, and then when they find something they think doesn't fit her "normal" look, they decide it must not be her at all. Or if it is her, maybe she messed up her Botox or wore a wig or is actually a man dressed up like a woman.
But hey, here's a hot tip: Making fun of how a woman looks and speculating on plastic surgery doesn't make you funny. It makes you sexist.
Editor's Note: This op-ed does not reflect the views of BDG Media and is part of a larger, feminist discourse on today's political climate.