When first lady Melania Trump wanted to send a message on Thursday, she turned to fashion to deliver it.
The green, Zara thigh-length Army jacket sported graffiti-like lettering on the back that read, “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?,” The Washington Times reported.
Given that the trip the first lady was embarking upon was to Texas to visit a detention center for the children of illegal immigrants, her critics pounced upon the message as being insensitive to an issue that had dominated the media for days.
"The role of the first family is TO care — about the country and the world — including about immigrants who come to America for opportunity, just like Melania Trump did," Kara Alaimo writes via @CNNOpinion https://t.co/jWhbDd3rx4
— CNN (@CNN) June 22, 2018
Let's just talk facts. Melania Trump flies to Texas to meet with immigrant children separated from their parents. Good for her. She wears a jacket that says "I really don't care." This is tone deaf at best. Why would anyone wear a jacket that says "I don't care" any time?
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) June 22, 2018
— New York Post (@nypost) June 22, 2018
The president sought to deflate the fits of umbrage by tweeting that Melania’s messages was aimed at the mainstream media, not children.
“‘I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?’ written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!” he tweeted.
“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2018
“It’s a jacket,” Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, said in a statement trying to clam the waves of indignation. “There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.”
Grisham later tweeted a reproof to the media after coverage of the issue reached such proportions that The Washington Post dubbed it “jacket-gate.”
“Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket,” she tweeted.
Today’s visit w the children in Texas impacted @flotus greatly. If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids – rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe – we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children. #SheCares #ItsJustAJacket
— Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45) June 21, 2018
Melania Trump also tweeted a message about her visit.
Today's visit to #Texas to spend time with children & thank the many hardworking individuals helping to care for them was very meaningful. Thank you to @SecAzar @HHSGOV for traveling w me today & the care you are giving these children in such a difficult time. pic.twitter.com/P5orrJ4k6p
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 22, 2018
In ruminating upon Melania Trump’s motives for wearing the jacket, Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times offered a different interpretation.
“Or maybe, just maybe, it was a message for those of us who like to read messages into her clothes. One that said, ‘I’m going to wear whatever I want and I don’t care what you think about it.’ After all, she wore the jacket again deplaning later at Andrews — wore it unapologetically knowing all the hoo-ha it had caused, the confusion and umbrage, the distraction from what she said was her core message of compassion. Wore it as if to give direct proof to the words on her back,” Friedman wrote.