Each year, Halloween turns into a sort of arms race to cram as many pop-culture references as you can into a costume. Where once a simple Chewbacca costume would have sufficed, now we must endure sexy Zika virus and Parisian Robbery Heist Victim Costume. This one-upmanship takes us away from the true meaning of Halloween: dressing your baby as a pumpkin. Given 2017 has provided more collective nightmares than any year in recent memory, it's safe to say that people will be scouring the ashes of the dumpster fire for new, and newly offensive but #timely, Halloween costumes this year. And look, I'm all for meme costumes. All I'm asking is: please don't dress as "sexy Melania Trump" for your Halloween costume. More importantly, please don't dress as "Free Melania." Because I know you're thinking about it (looking at you Candice Bergen).
Yes, the "Free Melania" rallying cry really had a moment there back in January when we were all still convinced that we could knit our way out of the Trump presidency. We were depressed, but our despair at the state of American democracy gave us a real kick in the pants when it came to great signs ("we shall overcomb" was a fav at the Women's March).
Then came these:
At the beginning, at least, you could generously read these signs as a subtweet to the First Lady herself. As a foreigner, and a woman who many suspected couldn't stand her husband, surely Melania Trump was secretly sympathetic to the Resistance, people thought. After all, she had chosen not to move into the White House right away. "Free Melania" had a sort of "Save Ferris" ring to it. We were in on the joke with her. "Blink twice, Melania," danced the signs outside Trump Tower, where I stood with my baby strapped to my chest. Ha ha ha. Then came the "Free Melania" t-shirts.
Some Halloween costumes fall apart during wear — I once wound up carrying portions of my homemade Lady Gaga mirrorball costume home in pieces — and others are dead on arrival. For "Free Melania," the moment expired on Inauguration Day, when this interaction was captured for eternity in a gif.
The premise of a woman trapped in a marriage, whether by pre-nuptial agreements, concern over what is best for her child, or an invisible but unshakeable power dynamic, is not the stuff of champagne comedy. A 2013 study of 2000 people by Slater and Gordon found that 1 in 5 women felt trapped in their marriage without the financial security to divorce. It's just not the kind of issue you want to jokingly reference while hoarding Peeps and toting your kid around the neighborhood in a mermaid costume.
And while Melania Trump is a satellite of the Trump machine, she is not a political actor. By all accounts, she is a devoted mother to her son, Barron, and has focused on public work in her time as First Lady.
To be honest, David Bowie alone should provide us all with enough costumes for a lifetime. With the rich catalog he left behind, I don't believe any of us need to dip into the controversy bin for Melania's hand-me-downs.
Trump has also inspired a lifetime of Halloween costumes, though all have essentially the same, gold-plated, fixative-sealed appearance: there is "threatening nuclear holocaust at the UN Trump," "angry telephone Trump," the worldly "taco-bowl Trump," "long-tie Trump," and — my personal favorite — "touching the orb Trump," to list but a few.
Throughout President Trump's dangerous and tumultuous first term, I have to say that Melania has looked damn near flawless. In fact, she is reportedly one of the few people who have managed to smoothe things over with our alarmed allies.
So when you're rushing through the house on All Hallow's Eve looking for a way to parlay a pair of haute high-waisted pants into a clever 2017 Halloween costume, maybe go past "Free Melania" to something that at least punches up or brings joy. I have some ideas.
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