Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Transformation of FLOTUS: A Dark Fairy Tale for the Season

In April of 2017, writer Kate Imbach wrote a reflection on Melania Trump, the then-new FLOTUS, as considered through the lens of Melania's personal photos, titled Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump. The article was prompted by the odd issue that the new first lady was so very absent, compared to most other FLOTUS'  of the past.
Imbach wrote:
Why won’t the first lady show up for her job? Why? I became obsessed with this question and eventually looked to Melania’s Twitter history for answers. I noticed that in the three-year period between June 3, 2012 and June 11, 2015 she tweeted 470 photos which she appeared to have taken herself. I examined these photographs as though they were a body of work. 
Everyone has an eye, whether or not we see ourselves as photographers. What we choose to photograph and how we frame subjects always reveals a little about how we perceive the world. For someone like Melania, media-trained, controlled and cloistered, her collection of Twitter photography provides an otherwise unavailable view into the reality of her existence. Nowhere else — certainly not in interviews or public appearances — is her guard so far down. 
What is that reality? She is Rapunzel with no prince and no hair, locked in a tower of her own volition, and delighted with the predictability and repetition of her own captivity.
Written during the time when Melania declined moving to the White House and opted to stay in Trump Tower, it's an interesting assessment, and although sympathy from readers varies, the consensus seems to be that loneliness is, indeed an ongoing factor in this woman's life. The photos from high up - an actual tower - with the same landscape and differing only in weather and time of day, do give the viewer pause.

Just as interesting is the interpretation of Melania's photos of the interior of Trump Tower:

 We can all picture the gilded monstrosity of the Trump home from publicity photos (chandeliers, sad boy astride a stuffed lion, golden pillars), but it is a different place through Melania’s eyes. She takes photographs inside her house at weird, skewed angles. It is a strange effect when the half-obscured objects, chairs and ceilings, are all so golden. It looks like what a terrified little girl held captive in a ogre’s fairytale castle might see when she dares to sneak a peek through her fingers. (source: Kate Imbach)

If you haven't seen this essay finding the parallels between Rapunzel and Melania, pre and post FLOTUS status, it's worth a read. While the writer is clearly critical of Melania's 'fitness' to be a first lady, its' nevertheless a very different look at Melania Trump as a person. You can find the whole article, with Melania's photos throughout, HERE.


Melania is now at the White House and chose to take an active - and apparently personal - role in decorating her new(ish) home, for the season. It's safe to say the public reaction to photos has been, less than warm...

A tweet from Donald Haase:

My retweet & comment:

And back to the growing list of folklore and fairy tale references mentioned (note: I have screen-captured the tweets referred to and inserted them after my tweets so readers can easily see what's being referred to, but the links in the embedded tweets also send you to the original tweet for the sources):



Note how the feet appear in the photo - enlarged below (it's obviously a lighting issue but it's still an interesting connection):

This comment (screen-capped below) expanded the supernatural narrative. Meant to entertain, it's also an interesting place to go:

A reply to one of the earlier tweets, pointing out the use of folklore:

And the tweet that prompted me to put it all in one place:

As an interesting callback to the original article about Melania in her tower, I thought I'd finish with the final sentence by Imbach, which has more resonance than ever:
 She’s living inside a dark fairytale, and in fairytales the women trapped in towers never save anyone but themselves.


  1. Wow! This was all so intriguing! The analysis of Melania's photography was particularly interesting, and sad as well. Side note, for the longest time I could not see her feet in the photo as anything but reversed. Only now that I am looking at a bigger version of it can I see they aren't. Thanks for another terrific post:)