Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, defended the first lady from the criticism she received after wearing stilettos en route to Texas this week for a briefing on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with her husband.
After Melania Trump was photographed boarding Air Force One in what appeared to be Manolo Blahniks, Twitter critics and several media outlets issued swift condemnation.
“And here we have Melania Trump modelling what NOT to wear to a hurricane: 5-inch stilettos. How out of touch can you be?” tweeted progressive organiser Holly O’Reilly.
Conway responded to the controversy on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday morning.
“Woman to woman, what did you think of the mainstream media making such a big deal of Melania’s shoes instead of the flood victims and the president being there?” co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked.
“Look, we saw what was in the President’s and First Lady’s hearts that day, not what was on their feet,” Conway said, adding that Melania changed into sneakers before arriving in Corpus Christi. “By the way, she didn’t wear those shoes down in Texas, she wore them onto the plane and, by the way, she can wear whatever she wants.”
Conway, who often criticises the media and the left for what she calls sexist treatment and has called herself an “anti-feminist,” argued that the reaction to Melania’s footwear exposes the hypocrisy of feminists.
“This is what cracks me up about the feminists — ‘I’m a free thinker, I’m an independent, nobody tells me what to do,'” Conway went on. “They get upset if someone says, ‘you’re wearing a pretty dress’ or calls you ‘honey,’ but they have judgment end on end.”
The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, told reporters on Tuesday that the controversy was “sad.”
“It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” she said.
But others say the first lady’s shoe choice — as all of her fashion choices — will, whether she likes it or not, be evaluated for meaning.
“It is precisely the superficial nature of clothing, the fact that garments are immediately accessible to all, that makes them the go-to stand-in for more nuanced, complicated emotions and issues,” wrote New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. “Mrs. Trump’s heels, after all … are redolent of a certain clichéd kind of femininity: decorative, impractical, expensive, elitist (all adjectives often associated with the brand ‘Trump’).”