Many liberal women see Ivanka and Melania as a disappointment. They're often particularly frustrated with the first daughter, saying that she acted like a female advocate in the 2016 election but has since enabled her father's policies that hurt women. The president doesn't view it that way, though. At a rally in North Dakota on Wednesday, he claimed the opposite: Trump said Ivanka and Melania "love the women."
Addressing the crowd, he described how Ivanka approached him about a child tax credit. "Darling, nobody knows what that is," he said. According to him, she responded, "The women know."
"My daughter and my wife, Melania," Trump continued, "they love the women, and the women love them." He added, for good measure: "And the men love them."
Despite what Trump says, it's a stretch to call Ivanka and Melania "loved." A Quinnipiac poll from June 6 estimated Melania's approval rating to be at 49 percent (for context, Michelle Obama had the same rating in 2010). The assistant director of the poll said that means that she "might have the best favorability rating of anyone in or close to the White House," but that's still less than half the country. An Ipsos and the Daily Beast poll from June 15 found that Ivanka is even less popular, with an approval rating of only 43 percent.
Twitter did not take kindly to Trump's comment. Many women responded with a flat denial, saying they harbor no "love" for the first lady or first daughter.
Fewer surveys specifically show how Ivanka and Melania's approval ratings differ between men and women. But a poll from SurveyMonkey that was published by Cosmopolitan in April 2017 indicated that both Trump women were more popular with men.
Ivanka was particularly unfavorable among younger women: Of those between the ages of 18 and 34, 52 percent disliked her and only 21 percent liked her. She was most popular with women over 65, 45 percent of whom approved of her and 41 percent of whom did not. Men were kinder to Ivanka, though the oldest still liked her the best: 32 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 approved of her, compared to 48 percent of 34- to 64-year-olds and 53 percent of men 65 and older. Cosmopolitan did not share Melania's numbers but noted that they were similar to Ivanka's.
Among women who do like Ivanka and Melania, some really, really like them. Last September, a New York City plastic surgeon told the London-based paper The Times that he's experienced a surge of women seeking expensive procedures to make them look more like the first lady and first daughter. Ever since the 2016 Republican primaries, he's gotten a constant stream of women who will pay $37,400 and up for temporary treatments and fillers or $56,000 and up for permanent surgery to make them look like Ivanka.
Of course, it's one thing to admire the appearance of these women, and another to approve of what they stand for politically. Despite the fact that Ivanka is one of Trump's senior advisors, she's proven either unable or unwilling to stop him from pursuing what many liberals say are anti-women policies. Last August, the president rolled back an Obama-era rule that would've required big companies to report wage data that's broken down along gender lines. Cecile Richards wrote in her recent memoir that Ivanka tried to get her to end Planned Parenthood's abortion services to ensure its continued funding.
"It was surreal, essentially being asked to barter away women's rights for more money," Richards wrote. We can probably count her among the women who do not approve of the first daughter.