"Fast fashion" tends not to draw a lot of press attention. Quickly made to cash in on catwalk trends, these items are purchased cheaply, only to be tossed out within a year or so (if they even last that long). But on Thursday, Melania Trump made a look from Zara famous on her way to visit immigrant children detained at the border: a jacket with the words "I Don't Really Care, Do U?" scrawled on the back. Obviously this was wildly inappropriate, so I have a few things Melania Trump's Zara jacket should've said that perhaps she can consider in the future. You know, for the next time... because with the Trumps there's always a "next time."
Initially, many people did not believe the image of the First Lady wearing the notorious jacket was genuine. I myself was skeptical because, well, how could such a thing possibly be true? But the First Lady's own spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, eventually confirmed that the photographs were not a hoax. "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message."
Ummm, it's pretty obvious there was no hidden message here, my dear.
The spokesperson went on to chastise anyone who would even bring attention to the First Lady's sartorial decision, saying in a statement, "After today's important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn't going to choose to focus on her wardrobe."
The unannounced visit was seen by many as an effort for the embattled Trump administration to show compassion and garner positive PR in light of the horrifying stories of forced immigrant family separation that have been at the forefront of the news cycle for the past week.
So... that went well.
Look, when someone tells you who they are, believe them, and Melania has made her feelings pretty clear. If she truly wanted to help children and families (or provide additional insight into the content of her character), here are some handy alternatives she could have gone with besides an olive jacket with a wildly inappropriate message:
"I Did Not Have To Be A Part Of This: I Chose To Be, So I Am Complicit"
A few weeks ago, the media and Twitter were abuzz at the conspicuous absence of Melania Trump from public life. This was particularly strange, many thought, coming on the heels of the announcement of her (extremely broad) "Be Best" campaign to promote the well-being of children.
I was not among those people.
The position of First Lady is a weird one. It's not an official job, it's unpaid, and yet the spouse of a president is somehow seen as being required to "take on a cause" and live an extremely public life. And if you're someone who enjoys being a public person or who would like to use this unofficial but highly influential position for good (as many First Ladies have done) that's awesome. But the First Lady owes us nothing. They don't need a platform. They don't need to smile for the cameras. They don't need to be arm-candy for their very powerful partner. So when everyone was like "Where's Melania?!" I was like "Pipe down: Melania doesn't owe you her presence."
So when she chooses to be present, that should be viewed as a freely-made choice to support and promote the administration and its policies.
"(202) 225-3121& (202) 224-3121"
These are the switchboards for the United States House and Senate. Calling your representatives is important — they pay attention to phone calls because their jobs depend on their ability to keep you happy in how they represent you! Let them know about the issues you really care about.
If you don't know who your reps are, just punch your zip code on whoismyrepresentative.com.
If you have not yet gathered the courage to call and speak with someone on the phone (I get it: who even does that anymore?) might I suggest working with Resistbot, an app that turns your texts into formal letters to your congressperson or senator. Resistbot will even prompt you to action — it's like having a super woke, proactive personal assistant.
"I'm A Hypocrite"
Melania, an immigrant, differentiates herself from her undocumented cohorts saying in an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe, "I follow a law the way it's supposed to be. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa. ... So I went by system. I went by the law, and you should do that."
Except... like... not really, though. In 1996 Melania allegedly worked as a model while on a travel visa, seven weeks before she had the legal right to do so. She also did not disclose this when applying for citizenship.
And, seriously, IDGAF, but don't get sanctimonious about legality when it appears that you allegedly, yourself, skirted the rules.
"Donate To RAICES"
The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a Texas non-profit that works to provide advocacy and legal representation for immigrants and their children. One way they do this is by funding bonds to allow parents to reunite with their detained children, and ensure legal representation in immigration court, including for unaccompanied minors. They also seek to get families mental health care to help them cope with their ordeal.
"Remember That Time I Cost Taxpayers Millions Of Dollars Because I Wouldn't Move To D.C. After My Husband Was Elected President Because I Thought Taking My Son Out Of School Half-Way Through The Year Would Disrupt His Life Too Much?"
So disruptive. So very traumatic. Can you even imagine having to leave one elite private school for another just because your dad is president? Like, the psychological wounds would just be... Oh! I can't! It's too difficult to even contemplate!
If you want the exact number, it was about $8.6 million, but, like, can you put a price on something like this?
(Yes, you can, and it's well below $8.6 million.)
"Donate To The ACLU"
The American Civil Liberties Union is advocating the immediate release and reunification of parents and children being held at detention centers. They are also working to close any loopholes in the recent executive order halting the practice of forcibly separating families.
"This Crisis Of Human Suffering Is Making Private Corporations Rich On The Taxpayer's Dime"
Private prison corporations, chiefly Geo Group and CoreCivic (also known as CCA), operate approximately 62 percent of immigrant detention centers. Surprisingly, perhaps, Trump's recent ending of family separation is a boon for their business: with children detained with parents indefinitely (recently GeoGroup and CCA's facilities could only hold families for up to 20 days, due to the Flores Settlement) there's really no limit as to how much money these companies can make on a family unit.
And that's just this one particular category of contractors! This is to say nothing of companies more than willing to make money off tent cities and "tender age" facilities or by providing food, bedding, and other amenities.
And did I mention that private corporations are not held to the same standards of transparency as government facilities? But, like, what could possibly go wrong, right?!
"Wanted: Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’, And K’iche’ Speakers; Lawyers, & Paralegals"
The Texas Civil Rights Project (another organization you can donate to, by the way) is seeking volunteers to help them provide legal defense and counsel to detained immigrants. Translators are in short supply, particular for Indigenous language speakers, and the amount of work to do from a legal perspective is enormous.
"Yeah, But Remember That Time Michelle Obama Showed Her Arms!?"
There will be those who will try to say that anyone making an issue of Melania's offensive jacket is hypocritical, as feminists have been saying for years that putting undo scrutiny on women's clothing is sexist.
It is. And it can be argued that it certainly was in 2009, when then-First Lady Michelle Obama was criticized for wearing a sleeveless dress for her first official photo as first lady.
Here are some other examples of undue scrutiny:
Asking a woman about who she's wearing when she's there to, say, talk about human rights.
Questioning if she's trying to hide a baby bump with her dress.
Questioning if a woman is "too old" to be wearing a particular item.
The list goes on.
You know what's not an undue amount of scrutiny? Calling someone out for wearing a jacket that has "I Don't Really Care, Do U?" scrawled on the back in huge letters while on an official visit to meet with children who are going through hell.
So don't fall for the false equivalence of people who claim to care about feminism or who suggest you don't.
The Following Quote From Dr. Colleen Kraft, President Of The American Academy Of Pediatrics
“The really basic, foundational needs of having trust in adults as a young child was not being met. That contradicts everything we know that the kids need to build their health."
Dr. Kraft has been very public in her condemnation of the treatment of children at the border, citing the short- and long-term effects of toxic stress on the development of children taken from their parents.
"I Am Part Of The Problem"
I'm not going to be able to say it better than Elie Wiesel, so I'll just quote him here:
"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, not the tormented."
Actively not caring is the most callous version of neutrality there is.
Feckless: weak, ineffective, irresponsible.
Yep. Yep. Yep.
You don't have to be best, Melania. You just have to be better... and considering the starting point here that shouldn't be too hard.