It’s completely bonkers to even entertain the “Fake Melania” theory. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
First Lady Melania Trump has a fondness for large sun spectacles that hide a third of her face. And if I may offer some fashion commentary for which I am entirely ill qualified, she wears them more often than one might find stately in a First Lady. Hiding one’s eyes can be regarded as a sign of something else to hide, not to mention that I find it rude to greet a new person without showing your face. It’s sort of like not removing a hat when you sit down to eat or enter someone’s home.
Decorum aside, there is one more reason the First Lady may want to reconsider her constant bespectacled state: It has fueled a very odd rumor, that a body double has been occasionally been appearing in her place.
Even if it were true, it would hardly be the craziest scandal. Melania was dragged into her role as international hostess with little warning. When she vowed to honor and cherish Donny Blimpo, she could hardly have imagined what awaited her. Her future was supposed to be a life of quiet splendor from atop Manhattan. The responsibility and scrutiny heaped on her has cast a harsh light on her behavior, grammar, fashion choices, Donny Blimpo’s porn star proclivities, and every other crack and crevice in her life.
So not only would I hardly be surprised if she did explore the option of a body double, I wouldn’t blame her. What is all that money good for if you can’t hire a model to slip on your shoes and hold hands with your beef-wreaking marital partner?
That doesn’t mean it’s true, though, no matter what the interwebs say. Let’s explore how the rumors started and what’s really behind those giant dark glasses.
Origins of the Fake Melania Theory: October, 2017
It was autumn, 2017, and the Trumps were heading out on a trip to visit a Secret Service training facility in Maryland. They paused on the White House lawn to address reporters. Melania is dressed in a trench coat and trademark jumbo shades, which is completely evocative of a spy costume. Between that and her body language, which arguably looks bored and uncomfortable, spectators begin to wonder if it is really her.
Adding massive fuel to the fire: President Trump actually says during that gaggle, “My wife, Melania, who happens to be right here…”. The interwebs collectively point out that this is exactly what Donny would say if she wasn’t right there.
My Take: This really is the one and only Melania. She looks like she would rather be having a root canal than standing on that lawn any longer, but it’s her. The jaw, the nose, the movement of her mouth, it all does add up. Plus, there is this follow-up photo, which I think debunks the body double theory. This time.
Melania Goes Missing: June, 2018
Through most of June and a bit of July, 2018, Melania Trump went missing from the public eye. Reported medical issues and an extended hospital stay only fueled all sorts of wild speculation and theories.
For me, this helps to debunk the idea that a “Fake Melania” had been utilized before or to that point. If one existed, then she probably would have been utilized in at least some small way–waving at a White House window. Standing on a balcony. Boarding a chopper to Camp David.
When it was all over, Melania had been missing for 24 days. There is still no adequate answer for where she went or why (my personal bet is placed on a divorce consideration). However, during that time, Donny either tweeted from her FLOTUS account, or at least dictated a tweet claiming it was her own voice. This becomes problematic in that they intentionally misled the American public about Lady Mel. If they are willing to do it then, what’s to stop them from perpetrating a slightly bigger ruse?
The Fake Melania Theory Resurfaces: March, 2019
After the trench coat affair, I gave little credit to the Fake Melania whispers. But #WheresMelania helped turn my head toward the notion that the First Lady has some secrets and her team isn’t great at managing them.
Then the Trumps went to tour tornado damage in Alabama in March, 2019. This is when the Fake Melania Theory blew up.
This is the photo that sent Twitter over the edge:
Actually, to be fair, the conspiratorial eyebrows were raised the moment Lady Mel stepped off the plane, since she exited Air Force One ahead of POTUS, which is unusual.
That’s hardly a smoking gun, of course. But the this photo began circulating and several people lit their hair on fire that this was absolute, incontrovertible proof. It wasn’t just the “look” but also the way she held Donny’s hand. Others swore that her hair was shorter, the texture was different, and that she was a fair deal shorter.
To make matters worse, President Trump fueled the fire by weighing in on the Fake Melania theory on Twitter for the first time, inadvertently lending it credence. He swore it was the “Fake Media” photoshopping images–which wasn’t true. There was video, not doctored.
My Take: Even I have to admit that his looks funny. Her chin looks different. Her hair is parted in a different way. And the fashion choices are odd given her usual style.
However, odd angles and lighting can perhaps account for this. She may appear shorter because she is wearing flat sneakers instead of her usual high heels. And based on other photos I’ve seen of Melania from about that time, the hair length seems reasonable. The nose seems very, very similar. I don’t know. Plus she was traveling with Barron, and I would think a “real Melania” would want to keep her son with her.
It’s curious, indeed. But I’m not convinced.
A Suspect Emerges as Melania’s Body Double: Spring, 2019
At this point, the untrusting masses start pointing to a likely Fake Melania–a member of Lady’s Mel’s security detail. It’s hardly surprising that someone on her detail very intentionally resembles the First Lady. But are they willing to drag her out to fool reporters and dignitaries? That’s a pretty big leap.
Another Fake Melania Sighting: June, 2019
France. The commemoration of D-Day. It’s hardly the time to be thinking on body doubles. Nevertheless, a photo of Melania emerged that had the public squawking.
One tweet I came across suggested that you can always spot Fake Melania based on the oversized shades and Donny is “extra handsy” with the double.
My Take: Okay, this doesn’t look anything like Melania. HOWEVER, there are many other photos in which she looks back to her normal self. Plus, realistically, it seems like a huge stretch that the First Lady would a.) skip out on a chance to visit France, and b.) that a fake would be presented to foreign dignitaries who have met the real thing before. If it is a body double, I hope she speaks all the languages that Lady Mel does.
I find it ludicrous that Lady Mel would try to pass a body double on this occasion. The only way it would happen is if there was no other choice, and that is a huuuuuuge stretch.
She’s Baaaaaack: July, 2019
By summer, 2019 the Fake Melania theory is really rocketing into the realm of “everybody’s talking about it, but no one wants to admit talking about it”.
That’s when the Trumps went to Brussels. July, 2019. And emerging from Air Force One, this photo was snapped:
My Take: Ooooooh. This is NOT a good photo. Melania looks super puffy and weird. No doubt. But with the wind and angle, I think this is just a very unfortunate pic. The trench coat look also subliminally adds to the air of mystery.
Again, I’m not convinced. Listen, people, I do not trust the Trump family farther than I can throw Eric. But all we have so far are a collection of odd, unflattering photos. And even those who are rankled by the Fake Melania notion do not have an active thesis on why such a wide conspiracy would be perpetrated. This theory is unfinished, untested, and unreasonable. So far. But we’ll keep an eye on it.
Melania, the whole world is watching you. Good luck with that.