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OPINION | Melania Trump’s stilettos aren’t insensitive — but using shoes to sow discord is

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According to feminists, you can’t judge a woman by her clothes. You can judge her by her shoes, though, but only if she’s Melania Trump.

While boarding Air Force One in Washington, D.C., to fly to Texas to survey the deadly wrath of Hurricane Harvey, the first lady was viciously attacked for wearing shoes. Black ones. With heels. The horror!

Somehow, this made waves.

It wasn’t only fashion magazines weighing in on her footwear. Everyone from writers at legacy publications like The New York Times and Washington Post to famed feminist Chelsea Handler, took to Twitter to mercilessly mock Melania and her Manolos.

{mosads}Never mind that a few hours later, she deplaned wearing white Adidas sneakers and a ball cap — it was too late to stop the storm. She had already committed the grievous sin of being seen in heels three hours prior, which New York Times columnist Vanessa Friedman slammed as being “redolent of a certain clichéd kind of femininity: decorative, impractical, expensive, elitist…”

Okay, so flippers and a wet suit might have been more practical outfit on a Texas-bound plane, and maybe some sweatpants would have helped her sneakers and baseball hat seem less expensive and elitist.

But criticizing the first lady for her pre-flight footwear and trying to tie her shoes to her level of compassion and concern represents a dismal new low for both feminists and the left.

What would have been actually insensitive and headline-worthy is if Melania had traipsed around Texas in diamonds and a ball gown. Or if she had posted a picture of herself next to the plane in a $14,000 designer outfit and hashtagged each item of expensive clothing, as Louise Linton did last week.

And what might actually have spoken to her lack of compassion and concern is if she had skipped the trip entirely. This time exactly one year ago, then first lady Michelle Obama didn’t wear any shoes when visiting flood-ravaged Louisiana with her husband because she didn’t go at all.

If folks were really upset that wearing heels made Melania appear aloof and indifferent, then why couldn’t everyone just be happy that she took them off? When it actually mattered, she quite literally lowered herself, doing presumably just what everyone wanted.

And that really does matter, in part because she never does that.  

Stilettos are her trademark. The former supermodel wears them everywhere, and has done so long before she ever stepped into her new role as first lady. It’s practically impossible to find a photo of her ever wearing anything else.

So for her to swap stilettos for anything, let alone sneakers, really is rather remarkable. If Melania’s not in heels, something really is wrong in the world. That’s why those Adidas were perhaps her most significant and symbolic fashion statement yet.

Ultimately, the person who is actually out-of-touch and insensitive is the woman who just used the country’s worst natural catastrophe to sow petty, political discord while making the insulting insinuation that affected Texans actually give a damn about anyone’s shoes right now. The hype over Melania’s heels is nothing but a disgraceful distraction from the purpose of her visit in the first place, and a cruel mission to keep divided a country trying to come together in the wake of a deadly disaster.

While thousands of people are right now watching their homes wash away, the rest of the country watches helpless and aghast. Watching women ripping into other women over accessories does nothing to help anyone heal, and watching the president’s wife get attacked over politics hurts everyone, everywhere.

Targeting the first lady for her shoes was worse than a cheap shot — it was a pathetic misfire. Ultimately, it only revealed the height of feminist hypocrisy and the depth of liberal absurdity. Everyone who took aim at Melania ought to be ashamed.

But the rest of the nation should be proud — proud to have a first lady who always exudes grace, class, and poise no matter where she goes, what’s she wearing, or who’s trying to knock her off her feet.

Chelsea Samelson writes about the intersection of fashion, culture and politics. Her work has appeared in National Review Online, The New York Post, The Week, The Federalist and others. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colo.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Hurricane Harvey Melania Melania Trump Michelle Obama Texas

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