First Lady Melania Trump’s first official photo is riddled with clues, experts say
Melania Trump’s White House photo is worth a thousand words.
The First Lady’s first official portrait buttons her up in a black blazer with crossed arms to show that she means business – but body language experts have picked up on hints that the former model hasn’t fully settled into her new role yet.
“It’s such a fascinating photo,” Patti Wood, author of “Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma,” told Moneyish. “It shows a conflict of how she feels.”
The famously guarded FLOTUS strikes a protective stance with long black sleeves. “It’s interesting because black is not a normal choice for a First Lady … who usually communicates softness or femininity or power with a colorful red or a blue hue,” noted Wood, referring to Michelle Obama’s 2013 navy dress, Laura Bush’s rusty orange look in 2005, and Hillary Clinton posed in soft pink in 1997. [Granted, Obama wore a black sleeveless dress for her first official photo in 2009, but she wasn’t the “typical” FLOTUS, either.]
“Black is not necessarily symbolic of joy or happiness,” added Wood. “It’s a protective color. It’s an armory color. That’s why New Yorkers wear it so much, because they’re constantly bombarded.” Considering Trump still lives mostly in her Fifth Avenue penthouse, embracing black could show she’s not ready to let go of the Big Apple yet.
And while crossed arms generally suggest that someone feels defensive or insecure, Trump’s “loose cross” projects more confidence. “It’s low, it’s not tight across the body, the arms are fairly loose, and the hands are not gripped tight, which shows less protection and less fear than a tighter cross,” said Wood.
There’s also an interesting juxtaposition between the modest long sleeves and the knotted sequined neckerchief covering Trump up, and the kiss of cleavage just above her blazer’s top button. “She still couldn’t help but say, ‘I’m a sexual woman,’ which is also different from the norm of what we usually see for the First Lady,” said Wood.
Then there’s the huge square-cut diamond ring that’s front and center. “It says she wants to lead with her wealth – and she’s not necessarily leading with her wedding ring,” noted Wood.
In fact, the overall gloss of the photo reads more fashion magazine glossy than official government portrait. “It’s obvious that it’s highly photoshopped, so it doesn’t even look quite real,” said Wood. “So that’s another interesting choice that we assume she made, or her handlers made; a choice saying, ‘I need to be beyond normal perfection.’”
But the biggest tell of all is her slightly crooked Mona Lisa smile. “There’s a lot of tension in that mouth. And if you look at it closely, one side of the mouth is a little bit higher than the other,” said Wood. “That says,‘I’m feeling one thing and having to express another.’ My read would be that she is having to express confidence in this photo, a woman who means business, but she doesn’t really feel that way.”
That flies in the face of her official statement that, “I am honored to serve in the role of First Lady, and look forward to working on behalf of the American people over the coming years.” We’ll just have to watch and wait.
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