Could someone please tell Melania Trump that she is not Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, is not modeling for an old-school Banana Republic campaign, has no hopes of being rescued from her misery by Indiana Jones and can therefore chill with the “safari chic”?
Further proving her mental disconnect from what her insufferable husband charmingly referred to as “shithole countries,” Melania has seemingly opted to turn her
white savior solo tour of Africa into her own runway show of colonialist couture. Jodphurs, safari-inspired jackets and dresses, and on Friday, the pièce de résistance, a friggin’ snow-white pith helmet, have all made appearances during Trump’s tour, raising eyebrows while subtly undermining her supposed humanitarian efforts.
If you’re wondering why her wardrobe has been borderline offensive, consider this little bit of history, as reported by Quartzy:
Pith helmets—also known as topees, according to The Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion—were originally made from a cork-like material called sholapith and designed to provide protection from the sun while allowing for ventilation. But the pith helmet’s historical legacy goes beyond European cork varietals. The headgear was standard-issue for 19th century British officers in India and Africa, making it a potent symbol of colonial rule. They’ve long since been abandoned, making them nearly cartoonish in their connotations today (or actually cartoonish: when TinTin went to Congo in 1931, he wore a pith helmet). ...
All of these totems of western pop culture—Banana Republic’s “safari craze,” Ralph Lauren’s well-appointed tents, Peter Beard’s fashion shoots, Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa—are problematic because they exoticize and generalize the people and places surrounding their white subjects.
You don’t say?
Not that we’d really expect any better optics from the woman who infamously wore a jacket reading “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” to meet refugees and stilettos to greet hurricane victims. What should she have worn, you ask? Maybe something that doesn’t remind us that she’d rather be gazing down at all of us from her gold-plated penthouse.