Some say the New York Post went too far. The Sunday cover of the newspaper, which had endorsed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the New York primary, featured a controversial image of his wife.
Under the headline, “ Melania Trump Like You’ve Never Seen Her Before,” ( NSFW) she was shown completely nude, save for a pair of black pumps. Her left hand strategically covered her nether regions, and a Post art director had the decency to blur out her nipples. Additional nude photos were featured inside the publication. The images of a then-25-year-old Melania were taken in New York in 1996 and featured in Max magazine, a now-shuttered French publication.
Speaking on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Donald Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, brushed off the photographs as “a celebration of the human body as art.” He added, “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about … she’s a beautiful woman.”
But in other circles, such as on the Young Conservatives website, readers found the images the Post ran “tasteless,” “disgusting and sexist” and “disgraceful.”
The Wrap described the cover as “the latest in a series of public humiliations” for Melania Trump. Slate denounced the cover, calling it “trashy” and pointing out that Melania Trump is not running for office. “A woman should be able to agree to take naked photos for a European magazine in her twenties,” wrote Emily Tamkin. “With the expectation that they will not show up on the cover of a newspaper/tabloid some 20 years later under the headline ‘Ogle Office’ when her husband decides to run for president.”
Ehhhh. The cover is trashy. It’s also sexist. Melania Trump’s bad decisions from the ’90s are being regurgitated as a way to shame her husband and point out further his unfitness for office, as if raging racism, his own blatant sexism and his profound ignorance and inexperience weren’t valid enough.
The New York Post isn’t right here, but sorry, I’m not rushing to denounce the publication as unfit over its latest despicable move. I am wondering where all of these people who are suddenly outraged by the treatment of a presidential candidate’s wife have been all this time.
Michelle Obama hasn’t ever run for office either, but that hasn’t stopped her from catching total hell for the better part of a decade, first on her husband’s campaign trail, then again as first lady. She has constantly been compared to various primates; a magazine cover depicted her as a slave; she was called a “ baby mama” in 2008, her 16th year of marriage; she took constant jabs about her weight, the size of her ass, her bare shoulders and her arms; and she had a cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker depicting her as an Afroed, militant, gun-toting domestic terrorist.
As if that weren’t bad enough, ever since Donald Trump emerged as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, the conservative media have been on a nonstop campaign about how Melania Trump will bring “class” back to the White House, as if Michelle Obama were not the breathing epitome of that word. Where was the outraged fuss about how the woman isn’t running for office when the main target was a black woman?
The third Mrs. Trump may not be running for office, but she is no longer off-limits. (If the Post had run these images when Melania Trump wanted to sit on the political sideline, I would have said the publication was wrong). She willfully hopped onto the Republican National Convention stage and into the arena. She’s no longer just laying up with a racist, ignorant psychopath; she’s campaigning for one to unleash his terror and idiocy on all of us. She is no more off-limits from a digging and a dragging than Michelle Obama was at this phase. And she is going to take this heat and these body blows just like Michelle Obama did and does.
If it’s wrong for one, it’s wrong for everyone, including Michelle Obama. So many of these newly outraged folks are a millennia late and a dollar short, getting all upset now that the media’s getting greasy with someone they find more relatable or sympathetic. Stop it. Get out of here with the knee-jerk reactions to protect whiteness. Don’t start acting like now that this crazy ish is happening to a white woman, it’s suddenly gone too far. It’s been gone too far. Melania Trump’s whiteness should not be treated like a mystical protective cloak or invisible shield that keeps her from experiencing the same mess FLOTUS has received and still receives after all these years.
This Op-Ed was originally published in The Root on July 31, 2016.
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