Melania Trump remained an enigma in the months leading up to the recent election, her public appearances limited to standing silently beside her husband at speeches and debates and a few reluctant-seeming interviews designed to soften the Donald's image with women after the incredibly offensive "grab 'em by the pussy" video was leaked.
Several hours of televised footage on Inauguration Day have provided us with the most insight into Melania Trump and her marriage that we've ever had. And my God is it depressing.
The internet agrees. There's been a noticeable shift in opinion toward her since Saturday, with many women coming to her defense, sympathizing with her, and even speculating about what her life might really be like.
First, there was this — after arriving at the doorstep of the White House, Donald Trump exits the SUV and immediately walks up the stairs to greet the Obamas, leaving Melania Trump to walk up the stairs alone behind him.
It's a stark contrast to the way former President Barack Obama treated Michelle Obama on their Inauguration Day back in 2009.
After getting out, President Obama waits beside the limousine until Michelle Obama walks around to join him. Together they walk up the stairs, his hand on the small of her back, where he waits for her to greet George W. and Laura Bush before then doing so himself.
And look, none of us had any illusions about the amount of respect Donald Trump had for women before he was elected, but damn dude. This is your wife! His actions seemed so incredibly thoughtless and the Obamas seemed to pick up on it, graciously ushering Melania Trump inside the White House after President Trump left her behind again and walked in by himself.
It didn't take the internet very long to start talking.
I genuinely can't stop thinking about this pic.twitter.com/NW7uOu96tO— Marc (@MarcSnetiker) January 23, 2017
It didn't get much better from there.
Astute Twitter user @Marv_Vien noticed this interaction between President Trump and his wife and presented it without comment in the following GIF.
I'm always reluctant to make assumptions about a person, or a couple for that matter, based on one seconds-long video clip, but I feel like it's pretty hard to misinterpret what's happening here. As Donald Trump turns around, Melania Trump plastered on a smile, nodding pleasantly. As soon as he turns around, however, the smile instantly drops from her face.
Who knows why Melania Trump's demeanor changed so rapidly, but it sure as hell looks like a woman who humors her husband to his face while feeling thoroughly over his shit. We've all been there, right?
(Although some have theorized that the video has been reversed, viewing the entirety of the inauguration video shows the series of events exactly as described above.)
OK, yes this is one singular moment. But when viewed in the context of the other the pictures and videos and what we know about Donald Trump, it really seems to depict a woman who is unhappy to be there and completely alone in her marriage. This picture of the Melania Trump makes me want to cry. Look at this body language. LOOK AT IT.
This is... I don't even know what to say. The tight-lipped smiles. The awkward shuffling around in a tiny circle, the way her hand remains stiffly glued to his shoulders, the lack of eye contact.
This does not seem like a happy couple. Hell, this doesn't even seem like two people who are comfortable touching each other. There's no warmth, no affection, no authenticity.
These photos and videos seem to have sparked a shift in feeling toward Melania Trump, with some starting a movement called #FreeMelania, and others simply expressing their pity for a woman who increasingly appears to be participating in a role she did not want or have much of a say in.
Others have been quick to jump to Melania Trump's defense after comedian Chelsea Handler mocked the first lady's accent (skip to 2:06).
I mean, what in the hell? Was that really necessary?
It's one thing to criticize the president, but attacking his wife's ability to speak English definitely crosses the line from political commentary into outright cruelty. Besides the fact that Handler's comments were offensive, there's the fact that Melania Trump speaks five different languages, which I'm willing to bet is four more than Ms. Handler.
I'm willing to bet that Melania Trump takes a very subdued role within the White House, and hopefully, more pictures of her appearing downright miserable will be few and far between as a result.
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