She thought she was prepared. After two-plus decades in the public eye, Melania Trump felt she was ready for the judgment that might come her way as first lady of the United States. “It’s part of being famous, the criticism every day, but also positive stuff every day,” she told Us in 2015, six months before husband Donald Trump was named the Republican presidential nominee. “It becomes very normal. I don’t mind because I know that it will happen.” To deal with the haters, summed up the Slovenian-born foreign model, “You have to have thick skin.”
Hers is made of Teflon. In the two years since Donald, 71, threw his red hat in the presidential ring, the 47-year-old businesswoman has been knocked for everything from her racy modeling shots to her European accept. Her latest perceived misstep: wearing four-inch Manolo Blahnik stilettos when she boarded a Texas-bound Air Force One August 29 to join Donald on a visit with those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Though she changed into sneakers mid-flight, Twitter users railed against her choice of footwear, deeming the $595 heels insensitive to those who just lost everything. Even Vogue, which featured Melania on a 2005 cover, asked, “What kind of message does a fly-in visit from a first lady in sky-high stilettos send to those suffering?”
But those close to Melania insist the only real takeaway is that FLOTUS favors a pointy-toe. “She just wore them out of the house,” an insider says exclusively in the new issue of Us Weekly. The mom of 11-year-old Barron, continues the insider, “wouldn’t have worn heels on the ground in Texas. No one in the White House thinks this is a big deal; the know there’s a million more important things going on.”
Melania is focusing on the big picture. During their trip to Corpus Christi, Texas — 200 miles southwest of Houston — the sneaker-clad star joined her husband in briefings with Texas Governor Greg Abbot, FEMA administrator William Long and representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard the the Red Cross.
“This has been a really eye-opening experience for her as first lady,” her communications director Stephanie Grisham tells Us. One she was eager to repeat. Four days after her heel hubbub, Melania returned to Texas to talk with storm survivors.
“She’s really focused on meeting with people who lived through it and speaking with them and getting a real handle on how people can best be helped,” explains Grisham. “She recognizes that this is a long-term process so she’s committed to helping people and seeing that through.”
For more on how Melania’s handling her new role, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now!
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