The Naked Photos of Melania Trump Are Slut-Shaming, Plain and Simple
On Sunday, the New York Post ran a photo of a naked (but "starred"-out) Melania Trump photo with the somewhat clumsy headline "The Ogle Office" on its cover. One day later, it's cover boasted of "exclusive photos" of Melania's "menage a Trump." The paper splashed images of a young, twenty-something Melania entirely in the nude, and in some cases, with another naked young woman wrapped around her.
Melania hasn’t had a very good few weeks. After appearing at the Republican National Convention and delivering a successful speech, it was quickly discovered that she had plagiarized broad swaths of it from Michelle Obama’s own 2008 convention speech. When faced with the news, the Trump camp threw an aide under the bus, although it was too late to keep Melania’s image as a polished, professional potential First Lady from evaporating. And last week it emerged that Melania had removed her personal website after reporters discovered that she had lied about getting a college degree: She attended the college for one year before dropping out. And now, the photos.
The way the Post treated Melania was — while hardly out of character for paper that once published a story about Tiger Woods' cheating scandal with the headline "Tiger Pulls Out" — particularly egregious, no matter your politics. Melania may have signed a disclosure to publish the photos when they were taken 20 years ago, but she didn’t authorize for them to be splashed across the front page of any publication two decades after the fact.
Regardless of the length of time that's lapsed or the role Melania finds herself in now, it's unacceptable to try to wrestle control of her own body and its image away from her. It's also damaging for all women to decide that posing nude at any point in her career makes her a "poor role model," as many took to Twitter to complain.
Soooooo just thought of something. You can't be Miss America if you have nude photos out there but Melania Trump wants to be First Lady???— DoinitwitheR (@DoinitwitheR) July 22, 2016
The Post’s behavior is, quite simply, slut-shaming. And reveling in the embarrassment this may cause Melania — or the rest of her family — is slut-shaming too. As a young woman, Melania had the right to pose however she wished for whomever she wished, without the lurking fear that it would somehow tarnish her character. She had the right to now refuse publication of the photos — and not out of shame, necessarily, but because we make different decisions at various stages of our lives. Trump's adviser said it perfectly when he explained, "There's nothing to be embarrassed about."
If you want to claim that Melania would make an unsuitable First Lady because of her politics, or her career decisions, or her moral compass, fine. It's also fine to be suspicious of the photos' timing, just as Trump is dealing with another round of outrage over his insults to the parents of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. A debate over racy photos of Trump's wife would distract from many voters' rightful anger. But to assert that she's a failure of a woman because she posed naked is just another twisted alternation of feminism.
More From Glamour:
• A Trump Campaign Writer Just Took the Blame for Melania's Plagiarism Scandal
• The $2,190 White Dress Melania Trump Wore at the Republic National Convention Sold Out in an Hour
• A Field Guide for the Feminist With a Donald Trump–Loving Dad
• Donald Trump Just Claimed He Shattered the Glass Ceiling “on Behalf of Women.” What?
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