Imagining the First Lady in hiding, or plotting her escape, allows us to ignore the uncomfortable truthby Sian Norris / June 7, 2018 / Leave a comment
You’d have to have been on… well, wherever Melania Trump’s been, not to have noticed the First Lady hasn’t been seen for a while.
Nearly a month after going into hospital for emergency kidney surgery, she finally made an appearance yesterday at an event closed to the press.
During her absence from the spotlight, sources told the Hollywood Reporter they hadn’t heard from Melania since she went to hospital. Her absence, and her husband’s odd response to it, quickly sparked a wildfire of conspiracy theories across the internet.
Suspicions were raised even further when Melania apparently tweeted she was fine and in the White House. The language in the tweet, however, didn’t read like Melania.
I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am & what I'm doing. Rest assured, I'm here at the @WhiteHouse w my family, feeling great, & working hard on behalf of children & the American people!
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) May 30, 2018
Could it be that The Donald logged into her account to tell the world how the media was “working overtime” in speculating about Melania’s whereabouts?
Memes popped up across Twitter and beyond, as people tried to guess what Melania was really up to. From having a girls night with Samantha Bee—as suggested by Guardian journalist Hannah Jane Parkinson—to being a Russian spy, no one was short of theories. Someone even suggested Melania was a cover identity for everyone’s favourite mysterious criminal mastermind: Carmen Sandiego.
— Jon Risinger (@JonRisinger) June 4, 2018
It didn’t help when Trump told a bemused press corps visiting the White House that she was “looking at us, right there,” gesturing to an empty window. Was Melania a… ghost?
Had she escaped down the sinkhole that opened up on the White House lawn?
This isn’t the first time theories about Melania have swirled around the internet. At the Inauguration, footage of her looking heartbroken caused intense speculation on her true feelings about the marriage and Presidency. Her prolonged stay in New York last year led to suggestions she didn’t want to live with her husband. There were jokes that her Inauguration gift to Obama was a note reading “help me.”
What underpins this obsession with Melania’s story? Why are so many people engaging in conspiracy theories that—more often than not—end in her avenging herself with a glorious escape from her marriage?
It partly springs from the way Melania functions as a First Lady. Unlike Michelle Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Melania Trump has not got involved in politics. The perfect trophy wife, she is a blank slate…