- Melania Trump wore a pair of yellow Timberland boots for a surprise visit with US troops at the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Wednesday.
- Some people have criticised her practical footwear choice, calling her “out of touch.”
- Timberland boots have gained iconic status in the hip-hop and fashion worlds, worn by the likes of DMX in the 1990s and Kanye West in the early 2010s.
- Trump’s fashion has been criticised for good reason in the past, like the time she wore the “I don’t really care, do u?” jacket to visit immigrant children, and when she wore a pith helmet that carried colonial connotations in Kenya.
- Unlike the criticism over those outfits, the backlash over her boots is not warranted.
- The backlash distracts from the recent military shake-ups that are likely the real reason for the Trumps’ impromptu visit to Iraq.
Melania Trump surprised US troops in Iraq on Wednesday when she visited the Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad alongside President Donald Trump, marking their first trip to the country after nearly two years in office.
But what the first lady wore on her feet – a sensible pair of yellow Timberland boots – is perhaps the biggest surprise of all.
Melania Trump has been known to wear less-than-practical shoes before, inciting backlash from critics who have scrutinised every inch of her outfits down to the sky-high stiletto heels she has worn while travelling to hurricane-stricken parts of the US and while planting trees in the White House garden.
This time, Trump ditched heels and opted for sturdy, flat, waterproof shoes that seem appropriate for a visit to an air base. Yet some people are still critical of her Timberland boots.
i have never in my life seen anything stupider than Melania Trump in a pair of Timberland boots ????????????????????
(close second is Eric Trump in his plaid-outdoorsy-shirt gazing into the sky)
— make america sane again (@riverjordan19) December 26, 2018
Some have argued that Trump was “out of touch” for wearing the shoes, pointing to racist remarks said to have been made by a Timberland executive. However, it appears that those comments were never made.
Did melania kill timbs or did the ceo of timberlands when he said he wasn’t wit (black)people wearing them casually #hmm
— 17???? (@thegadblast4me) December 26, 2018
According to Snopes, the false remarks originated from a December 2014 article from the now defunct site Naha Daily, which cited the shoe company’s CEO saying he did not want to see “Blacks and Latinos” in the boots. Snopes reported that a disclaimer on the Naha Daily’s site said that its content was “based off current events in urban culture and entertainment” and “completely fictional.”
Timberland boots are known as resilient work boots, which makes them a somewhat unexpected choice for Trump. But they have also become iconic in the hip-hop and fashion worlds.
Yellow Timberland boots were made in 1973, and they were so successful that their manufacturer (then called The Abington Shoe Company) changed its name to The Timberland Company in 1978.
As the shoe approached its 40th anniversary in 2013, The Guardian heralded the yellow Timberland boot as one of the “most recognisable fashion classics.”
The lace-up boots have commonly been worn as a heavy-duty work shoe, but they have also gained iconic status in the hip-hop world, worn in the 1990s by the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan and DMX, and later by Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, and Rihanna, among others. As The Guardian said, the boots are so influential that they inspired the name for the record producer Timbaland.
The fashion world has also embraced the shoe. In the early 2010s, some menswear designers revived $US170 Timberlands as a fashion piece, putting what has long been considered a construction-site staple on the catwalk.
Many people have rushed to the first lady’s defence
@FLOTUS you are the only lady I know that I know who makes timberland boots look so lovely!!! Thank you for all you do for our country and our troops????????????
— Tgal⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Tgal38781401) December 27, 2018
— Pat ⭐⭐⭐???????? (@Qanon172) December 27, 2018
Others don’t get what all the fuss is about.
What's wrong with the timberland boots?
— CJ (@nannacassie) December 27, 2018
While Trump’s choice in footwear might seem unexpected, it’s not the first time she has worn Timberlands
After being photographed in a pair of stilettos, she changed into what appear to be the same pair of yellow boots to visit Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
It’s also not the first time Trump’s fashion has been criticised
There have been at least two occasions in 2018 when the first lady’s fashion was heavily criticised for being seen as insensitive at best and racist at worst.
The first was in June when she visited immigrant children who had been separated from their parents and held in a Texas border facility while wearing a Zara jacket with the words, “I really don’t care, do u?”
The second was in October when she put on a white pith helmet that carried connotations of colonialism for a visit to Nairobi National Park in Kenya.
In her book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman said Trump uses style to “punish” her husband. She wrote that by wearing the “I don’t really care” jacket, Trump “gladly, spitefully, wrecked her husband’s directives to make him look foolish.”
Another popular argument at the time was that the jacket was a political manoeuvre designed to take control of the narrative and to give the right a reason to lambast the media.
Regardless, Trump wearing Timberland boots to an air base in Iraq doesn’t come near being as suggestive as her jacket, with its clear message written in giant white letters.
The backlash to Trump’s boots distracts from the military shake-ups that are likely the real reason for the Trumps’ impromptu visit to Iraq
The post-Christmas trip came just a week after Donald Trump announced he would withdraw about 2,000 US troops from Syria and pull half of the 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan.
The visit also followed the resignation of Secretary of Defence James Mattis, a retired, four-star Marine Corps general who elaborated on his decision in a letter excoriating Trump’s “America First” policy.
In a tweet about the president’s visit, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote that the president and first lady travelled to Iraq “to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas.”
President Trump and the First Lady traveled to Iraq late on Christmas night to visit with our troops and Senior Military leadership to thank them for their service, their success, and their sacrifice and to wish them a Merry Christmas. pic.twitter.com/s2hntnRwpw
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) December 26, 2018
Representatives for the White House and Timberland did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.
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