April 5, 2017

Apparently, people want to carp about the official photograph of Melania Trump.



Anything you want to say about it? Having trouble figuring out what to focus on? If you don't want to bother reading the internet, I'll help you in the form of a poll:

What's the best topic here?
 
pollcode.com free polls

IN THE COMMENTS: Daniel Jackson wrote:
As a photographer, the first thing I look for in a portrait are the eyes. It's part of the trade: the first triage in editing through the mass of takes has to do with 'are the eyes in focus." In this portrait, they are incredibly sharp with the key light off to the right above center, which creates the rim about the chin and shadow on the left side of the face. The French call this the personality light.

The eyes in this picture are strong. Slightly narrowed, they tell us about the power on the other side. She is NOT a pretty face; she is NOT a Bimbo. She's the First Lady. Period.

Her hands are relaxed and visible. She is waiting. The composition shows two congruent triangles, crossing at the mouth, linking each eye with the opposite hand. The leading lines behind her, almost spider weblike, direct our gaze to the left, to her husband's place, almost like the position on a chess board on the Black side.

After months of salacious gossip and tabloid images of her bare chest taken when she was a new model in Europe (how many young people masturbated to them), she presents in this official portrait a powerful front punctuated by those eyes.

It's not Beauty here I see; but, poise and power. Like her husband, she is a power dresser. She wants you to look her in the eye.

Good hair and clothes are obligatory. It's the Eyes, stupid.

89 comments:

carrie said...

Can you put up Michelle Obama's official photograph for comparison?

buwaya puti said...

Honi soit qui mal y pense

That's a cliche for you.

BDNYC said...

The suggestive sliver of exposed skin above her breasts. My eyes were immediately drawn in that direction.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

She looks like an Eskimo.

Earnest Prole said...

Whether Donald Trump's penis has ever been inside her?

Fernandinande said...

Anything you want to say about it?

The fact it's a 1.2Meg png file and not a 73K jpg file bothers me.

buwaya puti said...

She looks like an ideal model for Burroughs "Princess of Mars".
Eroticism and attitude.
Assuming the right attire of course.

tcrosse said...

Love trumps Trump-hate.

MathMom said...

I call this the Realtor Pose. I wish she had her hand on a table or chair.

But that said, she's a lovely woman, even prettier when she smiles for realz.

And people who are bitching about the portrait only wish that all of their accomplished women...Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Loretta Lynch, Valerie Jarrett...I could go on...would all be best photographed from the front and side, holding a number and name in the portrait. Orange. Think orange.

Michael K said...

"Can you put up Michelle Obama's official photograph for comparison?"

Yes, it's up on Instapundit or at a link.

Then there is the one from the NFL Combine.

The prettiest First Lady, I think, was Grace Coolidge, who was not a model but taught deaf children.

In 1893, she entered Burlington High School. There she studied Latin and French, as well as geology, biology, and chemistry.[2] She also took a private course on elocution. She enrolled in 1898 at the University of Vermont, where she founded the Vermont chapter of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, acted in productions of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night, and joined the college's glee club. She would become the first First Lady to have earned a four-year undergraduate degree.[2] From 1902 to 1904, inspired by a childhood friend who had pursued a career teaching deaf children, she studied lip reading at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech and became a teacher there. The education of deaf children remained her lifelong passion.

YoungHegelian said...

I put in my vote, click to see the results, & --boom!-- the heavily male readership of the forum comes to the fore!

NTTAWWT, 'cause I voted the exact same way.

Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be bent out of shape about the fact that her arms are crossed. This woman is actually trying to live her life in private & not find some do-gooder cause to hector the rest of us about from the unelected office of First Lady. If she wants to stay private & take care of her son as her primary responsibility, leaving a lot of the First Lady-ing duties to Ivanka, well, that's for the Trumps to figure out.

traditionalguy said...

You can tell a lot about a man by seeing how his wife reacts to him. She seems content with her role in the family. And the two seem to like the other.So I would say that he has finally married well. Also he had the courage to keep trying until he got it right.

And since she married The Donald, he seems to have kicked it up several notches.

whswhs said...

"Is she a good woman or does she seem aloof and uncaring?"

What do you mean "or"?

The Cracker Emcee said...

There are times when you know that any criticism is motivated purely by envy. This would be one of those times.

madAsHell said...

She's exotic. She doesn't look northern European. Genghis Khan might be her ancestor.

Professional lady said...

She's undeniably a very beautiful woman. She seems to now prefer to stay out of the public eye as much as possible. I'm fine with that.

Owen said...

O God, I'm in love.

Michael K said...

"You can tell a lot about a man by seeing how his wife reacts to him."

I know some people who know his first wife, Ivana. She seems to be, from what I heard, a ball buster.

FWIW

Fernandinande said...

madAsHell said...
Genghis Khan might be her ancestor.


That could very well be true: 1 in 200 men direct descendants of Genghis Khan
"In more quantitative terms, ~10% of the men who reside within the borders of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan may carry his Y chromosome, and so ~0.5% of men in the world, about 16 million individuals alive today, do so."

Mike Sylwester said...

I still miss Marla Maples.

Michael K said...

"Genghis Khan might be her ancestor."

He is the source of about 80% of Y chromosomes in Asia. How he had time to kill all those people is a mystery.

Michener's "Caravans" is a great history lesson about the area and Genghis.

I need to read it again. It's been years.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The best topic here is how she's not Susan Rice and every word written about her is a word not written about Susan Rice.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

She may well never be topped as the most beautiful first lady.

But only because Gisele will be much older when Brady takes the oath of office.
Because he won't run until he retires from football.
And he won't retire as long as he is the best in the league.
So at least another decade.
More likely two.

Static Ping said...

The "pretty" topic is rather a boring since she is objectively pretty. It's a sky color discussion.

Personally, I was more entranced with the scarf.

Rosa Marie Yoder said...

Mrs. Trump is a beautiful woman with grace, class and quiet strength; and I'm thrilled to have her as the First Lady of the United States.

rehajm said...

Remember when all the fashion world was going to boycott her and the Trumps? "Vai a cagare!" says Stefano Gabbana to that.

Ann Althouse said...

"I put in my vote, click to see the results, & --boom!-- the heavily male readership of the forum comes to the fore!"

According to Google analytics, over 80% of the readers here are male.

But only 72% click through to anything, so you've got a limited number of readers who are even potentially reading the comments — let alone commenting. In any given comments section, you're probably seeing less than 1% of the readers.

Yancey Ward said...

In honor of cliches, sometimes a pose is just a pose.

Kate said...

The diamond, of course.

The official pictures of Michelle and Barack also include their hands and wedding rings. I sense subliminal pro-marriage messaging.

Birches said...

Oh! I wanted to pick more than one!

Melania is very beautiful. I say that as a straight woman. It is a very model smile.
Yowza! That diamond!
It is a very unconventional First lady portrait. Our previous three First Lady portraits have looked like they were trying to be the Nation's mother. Melania's look shows she has no such interest. I admire that.

Hagar said...

Well, I think I remember that some Mongol bigwig is buried in Slovenia.

But Farrah Fawcett's hairdo was way more spectacular than Melania's. Melania's is just last year's TV anchoress fashion.

Ann Althouse said...

"What do you mean "or"?"

What do I mean?

I mean this is a topic I've seen discussed on the internet.

Ann Althouse said...

"I call this the Realtor Pose. I wish she had her hand on a table or chair."

I've been thinking about that crossed arms pose. I believe it is a way to de-emphasize the chest. You're there, looking confident, but not expressing the idea that your body is great, even though it's in the picture.

Lyssa said...

Birches said: It is a very unconventional First lady portrait. Our previous three First Lady portraits have looked like they were trying to be the Nation's mother. Melania's look shows she has no such interest. I admire that.

I agree - it's an interesting choice and has a much more edgy look than you would usually see in these sorts of pictures. That's not a complaint (I do not want politicians to be our loving parents), but it is unusual. Not that much is usual these days.

hombre said...

Zounds! That ring cost nearly as much as one of Michelle's vacations.

David said...

"In any given comments section, you're probably seeing less than 1% of the readers."

So some of your readers may be normal well adjusted people? Good.

Ann Althouse said...

"The "pretty" topic is rather a boring since she is objectively pretty. It's a sky color discussion."

I agree, but one could very well think that the obvious, though boring topic is best. It's also most polite. It's really the best choice upon being shown a picture of any woman if she's at all pretty. I mean as long as it won't come across as sarcastic "very pretty" is a good move, socially. If she's just plainly not pretty, you can say she looks "nice" or say something about the expression — "she looks so happy," "what a great smile" — or "great picture" or "love her."

Personally, I think the best of the listed topics is whether that's a First Lady expression or a fashion model expression (including what those concepts mean and why we want what we seem to want from a First Lady and how we feel about Melania not meeting our expectations but seeming more distant and inscrutable and why fashion models do that).

JackOfClubs said...

What do we call that hairstyle? Is it what Farrah Fawcett wore the 70s?

Right period, wrong Angel. She has the Jaclyn Smith look with maybe a little less curl.

sodal ye said...

The airbrushing. Forehead, cheeks, around the mouth, plasticized. She's an exotic creature and deserved respectful handling. This isn't it.

MadisonMan said...

It's more Jaclyn Smith hair than Farrah Fawcett.

n.n said...

It's the independent, confident look, waiting for her opponent to underestimate her.

Robert said...

Presence, Confidence and Substance.

Renee said...

She's a professional model and she poses as one.

I actually wished to something more casual/candid I guess.

Birkel said...

@ Althouse

Many young women develop the hunched shoulder look to hide their chests. This seems most likely to occur in earlier developing young women. Some never learn to hold their shoulders square and face the world directly.

Crossed arms accomplishes the same goal without hiding from the world. A model would know that.

victoria said...

Did they take the picture of her through a pair of stockings? the only thing i would say is that she had the picture touched up significantly. Looks a little too, too.

She is pretty, but a little too modelish. But that is what she is comfortable with.

Vicki from Pasadena

Static Ping said...

Ann, I can see the fashion model vs. First Lady expression discussion. The problem is I don't know what a First Lady expression is supposed to be. Are all First Ladies supposed to follow similar posing, or is it supposed to reflect the person? Most First Ladies have not had significant careers being products of traditional family roles and the ones who have were mostly involved in their husband's political career. We don't really have a precedent for an independently wealthy fashion model before. This is new ground.

Larry J said...

Why is it that so many women appear to have not grown emotionally since they were in Junior High/Middle School? Adolescent girls are vicious to one another. "Ooh, her boobs are bigger, she must be a slut!" My granddaughter turns 13 in June. I worry both for her and about her.

A lot of women never outgrow that juvenile mindset. That's why my wife, a nurse, much preferred to work with men instead of women. She was constantly annoyed by the endless drama as her coworkers gossiped and torn done every woman in sight.

Limited blogger said...

no thanks, your poll questions denigrate her enough

rehajm said...

Carpe diem commenters! Someday we will be left with only memories of referencing Charlie's Angels in a discussion of first lady portraits.

Michael K said...

Did anyone click on the Grace Coolidge link?

I still think was the most beautiful first lady.,

walter said...

"That diamaond is the best, let me tell you."

Roughcoat said...

A pretty girl is like a melody. Melania is a melody sung in four-part harmony.

Roughcoat said...

Grace Coolidge is pretty. Reminds me of Elizabeth McGovern.

William said...

Historical note about Grace Coolidge: In later life, she was friends with JFK. I'm not saying anything untoward occurred, but she did pose for her official portrait in a red dress. What kind of woman poses in a red dress? Calvin strongly objected to the red dress. He had values.

Johnny Sokko said...

Before the inauguration, I didn't care for her look; however, that light blue outfit she wore was great. She looked really hot.

I think she looks pretty darn good in this photo.

William said...

I just saw the movie Jackie. It was sympathetic but not hagiographic. After seeing the movie, I clicked on the you tube video of her White House tour. Jackie was prettier than Natalie Portman, but Natalie had a movie stars' way of engaging you in their emotions. Natalie was far more credible as Jackie.......Melania is phenomenally good looking, but there's an uncanny valley quality to her good looks. Ivanka is much more engaging in her bearing and deportment. Trump would be wise to cast her in the role of First Lady.

walter said...

She comes across more "glamorous' than attractive to me. A bit storefront mannequin-esque.

Bruce Hayden said...

"Melania is very beautiful. I say that as a straight woman. It is a very model smile."

"She's a professional model and she poses as one"

Very beautiful, yes, pretty no. Not in my view. Very likely still beautiful w/o makeup, but maybe not quite as much so. Too Slavic maybe. Or, so I have been told by my partner who was successful modeling, until she quit to have kids (and who thinks her French looks are superior - women are catty, aren't they?) In a completely different league than any First Lady in a long, long time (even, I think, more beautiful than Jackie Kennedy).

Daughter-in-law complains that my partner just doesn't take bad photos. And it takes work to get a bad one (I have to catch her unaware). I expect that Mrs Trump is the same way. She just automatically poses whenever a camera points her way. Which takes years of training, but looks natural later. Difference is that my partner almost always smiles when she poses,and Melania never seems to. You play to your strengths, and my partner thinks that Melania's mouth may be too wide for a perfect smile. So, when she poses, she does it with her mouth closed.

Sorry to all the feminists here in advance, but I am proud to have a professional beauty like Melania Trump as our First Lady.

CR said...

It is striking how freely criticism flows toward Melania Trump, especially since there was practically a moratorium on criticism of FLOTUS during the Obama years. I recall stories of people losing their jobs over their criticism of Michelle Obama or her daughters.

robother said...

I hear that Victoria's Secret had the opportunity to design attire for this official photo and boycotted. Sad!

mockturtle said...

Rosa Yoder says: Mrs. Trump is a beautiful woman with grace, class and quiet strength; and I'm thrilled to have her as the First Lady of the United States.

This sums it up for me, as well.

Bruce Hayden said...

You go with the First Lady that you have. The last three First Ladies all had graduate degrees, and maybe at least some weight issues (though Laura Bush's seem less severe than the other two). For the most part, First Ladies match their husbands pretty well, coming from the same parts of society, etc. mostly upper middle class, to match their upper middle class husbands. The three real exceptions in my lifetime were the Kennedy, Reagan, and, now, Trump spouses. Both the Johnson and Clinton First Ladies may be said to have married down, but were rewarded for seeing the potential in their choice of spouses. As I said, pretty good match between Presidents and their First Ladies, at least in recent history.

Melania Trump only seems odd, because we haven't had a celebrity billionaire as President. Trump is unique, including in his notoriety. We were watching a movie the other day, maybe a decade old, and there he was, playing himself in a cameo role, and even back then, you knew that you had arrived, in top tier NYC, if you were on a first name basis with Donald Trump. You expect a celebrity billionaire to be married (in his case, multiple times) to an international beauty as a trophy wife, and he is.

Roy Lofquist said...

I look at that photo the same way I listen to Bob Dylan - don't think, just enjoy.

rhhardin said...

I'd go with a hailing-a-cab pose, which is proper for leaders.

rhhardin said...

A pigeon on her shoulder would have been edgy.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
"Genghis Khan might be her ancestor."
He is the source of about 80% of Y chromosomes in Asia.


8%, not 80%.

wwww said...

Melania is phenomenally good looking, but there's an uncanny valley quality to her good looks.


The Uncanny Valley. Couldn't put my finger on it until I read this. Reminds me of Mass Affect: Andromeda.

buwaya said...

She would look great posing on a Thoat, with a mounted escort of barbaric Green Martians.

tcrosse said...

She takes a much better photo than the First Gentleman would have, had the election turned out differently.

Michael K said...

I was exaggerating but he did get around.

StephenFearby said...

AA wrote:

"But only 72% click through to anything, so you've got a limited number of readers who are even potentially reading the comments — let alone commenting. In any given comments section, you're probably seeing less than 1% of the readers."

Them's the "silent majority", most famously remembered as a Nixon term but also recycled by others. Most recently by the Trumpster.

'During Donald Trump's presidential campaign, he said at a campaign rally on July 11, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona that "the silent majority is back, and we’re going to take our country back."'

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_majority

One of the problems faced by a conscientious blog reader who may be inclined to comment is having to wade through (sometimes) hundreds of comments to make sure they don't repeat what has already been said.

Unfortunately, a very large percentage of the hundreds of comments relating to topics with a political vibe are back and forth "personal attacks on other commenters". These quoted words are in AA's slug on verboten postings.

An admonition that seems increasingly "more honour'd in the breach than the observance."

Daniel Jackson said...

As a photographer, the first thing I look for in a portrait are the eyes. It's part of the trade: the first triage in editing through the mass of takes has to do with 'are the eyes in focus." In this portrait, they are incredibly sharp with the key light off to the right above center, which creates the rim about the chin and shadow on the left side of the face. The French call this the personality light.

The eyes in this picture are strong. Slightly narrowed, they tell us about the power on the other side. She is NOT a pretty face; she is NOT a Bimbo. She's the First Lady. Period.

Her hands are relaxed and visible. She is waiting. The composition shows two congruent triangles, crossing at the mouth, linking each eye with the opposite hand. The leading lines behind her, almost spider weblike, direct our gaze to the left, to her husband's place, almost like the position on a chess board on the Black side.

After months of salacious gossip and tabloid images of her bare chest taken when she was a new model in Europe (how many young people masturbated to them), she presents in this official portrait a powerful front punctuated by those eyes.

It's not Beauty here I see; but, poise and power. Like her husband, she is a power dresser. She wants you to look her in the eye.

Good hair and clothes are obligatory. It's the Eyes, stupid.

Owen said...

Daniel Jackson: an education in a single post. Many thanks!

Owen said...

Buwaya: "...Thoat..."

Yes. I see Thuvia, Maid of Mars there. Or maybe Dejah Thoris?

Thanks for some great nostalgia there.

buwaya said...

Most certainly Dejah Thoris.

walter said...

Well..her eyes are definitely unique...but kind of squint-like and far less expressive than say Ivanka's.

Mary Beth said...

She's beautiful, but what I like best about her is that she hasn't shown any signs that she thinks she was elected along with her husband.

Balfegor said...

Re: William:

I just saw the movie Jackie. It was sympathetic but not hagiographic.

I started to watch that on a plane recently, but the voice is really just too much. Nails on a chalkboard. I think I've complained here before about how irritating I find aegyo, and the voice the actress had to put on to imitate Jackie Kennedy's voice is like English aegyo, but even more irritating. I guess people went for that kind of thing during the 60s.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

In any given comments section, you're probably seeing less than 1% of the readers.

But we're the REAL Althousians. We live here. The rest are just tourists. :D

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

a First Lady expression or a fashion model expression

It's a fashion model expression, and I don't care for it; I wish she'd open her eyes wider and lose some of the black liner and smile more warmly. That said, the effect on my life of the affect on the official portrait of the FLOTUS is approximately zero, so there's that.

tcrosse said...

At least as FLOTUS she does not think ipso facto she's entitled to be President herself one day.

Michael K said...

"As a photographer, the first thing I look for in a portrait are the eyes."

Interesting comment.

heyboom said...

The designer is Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana fashion house. He says he is proud to dress Melania and tells his critics to "go to hell".

Also, please everybody read Daniel Jackson's post @ 3:26.

rcocean said...

"Both the Johnson and Clinton First Ladies may be said to have married down, but were rewarded for seeing the potential in their choice of spouses."

Also, true of Ike, Truman, Lincoln, Grant and Nixon.

Original Mike said...

"It's the Eyes, stupid."

There's something about her eyes that I find almost alien, but I don't see that in this particular picture. In this picture she's absolutely beautiful.

tim maguire said...

Guess I can;t argue with a professional photographer, but I thought the face was washed out. Lighting not quite right.

But as for the rest, I saw a taking care of business pose. A posed press shot of a CEO, exuding power and poise.

mamafrog said...

Basically, who gives a fuck? If you don't like it or her, just don't look at it because no one really cares what we think. She's decently and modestly dressed, even. I'm really tired of seeing women who think they have to get a point across by flaunting things I'd rather not see, or opening their mouths to prove just how stupid they are.

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