Melania Trump's Fashion Choices Abroad

By Bhavana Ravala (Future Politician)

During President Trump’s travels, many of the choices he and his family make have been heavily scrutinized by the media, the same treatment most past Presidents have faced. The First Lady Melania Trump in particular is facing criticism for her choice of attire in Saudi Arabia and when meeting the Pope due to the religious connotations associated with those choices.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Melania Trump chose not to wear a headscarf in Saudi Arabia, which seemed especially ironic to many because President Trump previously criticized former First Lady Michelle Obama for going bare headed when travelling to Saudi Arabia in January 2015. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Trump wore a veil when meeting with the Pope in Vatican City, inciting cries of a double standard since she chose to respect the rules of Catholicism but not Islam while travelling abroad and representing the United States.

In the case of Melania Trump, a double standard does not exist. The First Lady is, in fact, Catholic. Her religion is a little known fact thanks to her husband’s Presbyterian identity, and the lack of Catholics in the White House since the Kennedys, but she recently confirmed it. It makes sense that a practicing Catholic would observe the rules of Vatican City when meeting with the Pope himself. And it makes sense that she would choose not to wear a headscarf. It would be a different matter if Mrs. Trump were not Catholic, but since she is, can we really criticize her for following the rules of her religion?

It is not as though she somehow delivered a slap in the face to Muslims everywhere by going bare headed in Saudi Arabia. She has not blatantly disrespected or ignored Islam or Saudi Arabia’s culture altogether by deciding not to wear a headscarf. Even though she did not cover her head, she still wore a conservative outfit as she arrived in the country: a black jumpsuit that was noted as being similar to the clothing worn by Saudi women. The lack of a headscarf did not seem to offend Saudi Arabia. Local newspapers praised the First Lady for her “classy and conservative” look, and praised her for respecting their culture when making her fashion choices.

As a non-Muslim woman, she is not under an obligation to wear the headscarf, and she was appropriately conscious of the culture in the country she was visiting. As a Catholic woman, it would make no sense for her to disobey the rules of the Vatican while meeting the Pope, and it would be incredibly disrespectful to the religion she practices.

The actions of Melania Trump do not show any double standard. Ivanka Trump is a different matter since she is Jewish, but this article is about the First Lady. There are legitimate reasons to criticize the President or the First Lady, but going after either one of them because Mrs. Trump chose to respect the rules of the religion she actually believes in a little more than the religion she does not practice is, quite frankly, inappropriate, and we can do better than that.

*Here's one way author Bhavana Ravala suggests you can get involved: take action with the Interfaith Alliance.

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