Melania Trump has had one hell of a campaign season, one that would have landed any other first lady candidate under extreme media scrutiny, and has had some wondering why she hasn’t been mocked more by the media.
While Donald Trump’s wife was the target of a heap of humorous memes after she was accused of plagiarizing Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech, there are special circumstances surrounding Melania which have given her a little leeway when it comes to being heavily slammed in the media, experts say. Simply put, she’s an anomaly.
The current first lady caused an uproar when she decided to don a sleeveless dresses during political events and had people saying that her fashion choice was “distracting from the central point.” Melania, however, isn’t held to the same standards because “she just doesn’t fit into the mold of what other first lady candidates have shown in the past,” Rajiv Menon, a cultural analyst for TruthCo. told TheWrap.
Amidst the prospective first lady’s resurfaced nude photos, plagiarized speeches and controversy over her personal website containing inaccuracies, Donald Trump’s right hand woman has definitely been subject to criticism, but not nearly as much as any one else if they were in her position.
While Jack Pitney, a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College in California, believes that the reason Melania manages to dodge scrutiny is because her husband “is a black hole that consumes all criticism within the vicinity,” he also agrees that she defies the norm for what a first lady is expected to be.
“She’s the trophy wife of a billionaire, a former model,” Pitney said. “So she doesn’t have to meet high expectations in a way that a Harvard educated lawyer like Michelle Obama does.”
According to Menon, it’s also difficult to talk about Melania whether you’re a Trump supporter or not. He said that Trump detractors might want to condemn her for her previous career and racy photos, but are hesitant to reinforce sexist stereotypes in doing so. Conservative Trump supporters might also want to call her out on her nude modeling days, but they also might value a wife like Melania.
“She’s just really confounding to a lot of people in the media and a lot of commentators because she exists between so many different contradictory forces,” Menon said.
Another reason Melania evades media criticism is because no one sees her as having a political agenda. Any criticism will be focused on Donald Trump because no one views Melania as the “power behind the throne,” Pitney explained.
“First ladies have attracted negative attention when people have seen them as potentially intruding on issues of public policy,” he said.