As promised during his days on the campaign trail, one of President Trump's first executive orders of 2017 concerned the construction of a wall along Mexico's border. Trump has repeatedly said that Mexico would ultimately pay the U.S. for this wall, which their government has vocally denied. Not even a week into his presidency and it seems Trump has made an enemy of Mexico, which makes his wife's latest press more than a little awkward. Melania Trump is on the Vanity Fair Mexico cover for February, and the timing couldn't be worse.
Obviously, given the tension between Mexico and the U.S. that's been brewing since Trump starting talking about a wall while he was still campaigning, the fact that the first lady is gracing the magazine's cover just as her husband is making good on his promise is more than awkward. And the internet, of course, immediately took notice of the ill-timed publication.
Mexico's Vanity Fair article — which actually originally appeared in GQ back in April, along with the photos — adoringly refers to Melania as "the new Jackie Kennedy", a comparison that has been made frequently by the media since the inauguration. The tweet announcing the cover girl came out on the same day that Trump made his statement regarding the construction of the $20 billion wall. Twitter was awash with objection toward Trump's plans for the wall and a somewhat ironic appreciation of his wife's cover shoot.
Some have postulated that the move may have been intentional of Vanity Fair's part. Mexico certainly hasn't been in the dark about Trump's plans, nor have they been quiet about their mounting lack of respect for the Trump administration. Several Mexican journalists have pointed out that such a grandiose cover is fairly insensitive to a country with marked poverty, and certainly whose people are not exactly feeling the love toward the U.S. at the moment.
While many on Twitter from both countries mocked the cover's timing, there was also plenty of resentment from the Mexican people, who don't want to see publications elevating the American president, or anything to do with him, during these times of growing animosity.
On the same day as the cover's release, and Trump's statement about the wall, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled his scheduled meeting with Trump. Over the last few months since the election, former Mexican president Vicente Fox Quesada has taken to Twitter on several occasions to make pointedly clear that Mexico has no intention of paying for the construction of a wall along the border — and he's not mincing words:
The offensiveness of not just the first lady's appearance on the magazine's cover in general, but the specifics of the photographs — which depict a level of affluence that many people in Mexico, who struggle to escape abject poverty, can't even begin to fathom — is just of a growing number of riffs developing between Mexico and the U.S.
While many Americans were amused by the irony of the cover's timing, it may be that the magazine new exactly what it was doing, and sought to throw the insensitivity of Trump's presidency right back in our face. In any case, the cover had at least one intended effect: it got people talking.