Why people think it's very wrong to compare Melania Trump to Jackie Kennedy

Joanna Taylor
Wednesday 26 August 2020 08:30
news

White House adviser Peter Navarro sparked an intense backlash for comparing Melania Trump to Jackie Kennedy.

Speaking to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Navarro said:

I find [Melania Trump] to be the Jackie Kennedy of her time. The beauty, the elegance, the soft-spokenness. 

I think she'll deliver a powerful message to the American people. 

Melania Trump indeed went on to deliver a speech from the White House Rose Garden as part of the Republican National Convention that evening. Whether or not it was "powerful" is another question entirely.

Obviously, the number one issue with Navarro's comment is how incredibly patronising it is.

Women should be beautiful and soft-spoken?

But people chose to focus far more on the comparison to Jackie Kennedy.

What likely inspired Navarro's comment was the fact that Melania Trump recently completed a renovation of the White House Rose Garden, which had gone largely untouched since the Kennedy administration.

Trump removed flowerbeds thought to be planted by Jackie Kennedy and uprooted some of the garden's iconic blossom trees.

Not everyone was thrilled with the results.

Trump has also compared his wife to Jackie Kennedy.

Asked why he planned to repaint the presidential jet – and depart from the colour scheme designed by John and Jackie Kennedy – by Fox and Friends last year, Trump responded:

I like the concept of red, white and blue. It’ll look much better, actually.

The baby blue doesn’t fit with us... and it was Jackie O. And that's good, but we have our own Jackie O today. It's called Melania. We'll call it Melania T. 

After her husband's assassination, Jackie Kennedy was sometimes referred to as Jackie O because of her marriage to Greek shipping millionaire Aristotle Onassis.

Then, and now, the internet responded by ridiculing Melania.

Of course, there are valid criticisms to be made about the woman who peddled a racist conspiracy theory about Barack Obama's birthplace.

And yes, she really did wear a jacket that says "I really don't care, do u?" while travelling to visit children in a migrant detention centre.

But far too many of the criticisms centred on Trump's appearance and former modelling career.

Nudity shaming and misogyny isn't suddenly okay when it's perpetrated against someone whose ideology you're opposed to.

Women deserve respect because we are people. Not because we fit into a particular mould of what you think a woman should be.

To tear Trump down because you don't think she's beautiful, elegant, or soft-spoken is to accept that these are the standards a woman should be held to. And we absolutely don't expect the same from men.

So maybe we could just stop comparing the appearances and personal lives of presidents' wives altogether?

Because the standards we hold the First Lady to – and, frankly, the concept altogether – is outdated and tired.

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