FLOTUS responds to criticism of her decorations for a second time
by Angelina Zervos
On Monday November 26, 2018, First Lady Melania Trump revealed the 2018 White House Christmas decorations to the public. The mansion’s decorations include 20,000 feet of lights, 14,000 ornaments, 12,000 bows, 29 Christmas trees, pencil wreaths to promote the “Be Best” campaign, a gigantic gingerbread replica of the National Mall, and most notably, 40 bright red Topiary trees. The display was set up entirely by volunteers, most of whom are either veterans or are representative of veteran families; out of about 6,000 applicants, only a little over two hundred people were selected to be a part of the decorating team.
The theme for this year’s White House Christmas is “American Treasures;” in a statement, Melania Trump said the decorations are meant to “honor the heart and spirit of the American people.” The display was seemingly very thought out by Mrs. Trump; however, as soon as the holiday décor made its debut online, the criticisms started to flood in, mostly surrounding the topiaries. The tall red trees were compared to the handmaids’ outfits in the television series The Handmaid’s Tale, the hallway of blood from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and soon the phrase “blood-red” began to be used to describe the festive decorations.
While many poked fun at the White House Christmas just for laughs, some commentators took a different route, insinuating that the Topiaries represented the oppression and bloodshed that took place on American soil, while others believed they tipped a hat to mother Russia. The backlash of the White House Christmas decorations, whether or not a comment was made with the intent of entertainment, was labeled as liberal hysteria by those who saw it as an attack against the Trump administration.
The first lady did not take long to react to the critiques. Two days after the reveal, during a TIME interview, she stated that everyone has their own particular taste, but she believes that the setup looks “fantastic,” and welcomes everyone to “the people’s house” to view them in real life. The following Friday, on November 30, Mrs. Trump gave a tour of the White House Christmas, an experience that was much more personal and insightful of her ideas than the original video posted by the White House. She made sure to address her decision to incorporate the color red so diligently throughout. Not only did she want it to represent the celebration of Christmas and the American flag, but also “bravery, heart, and patriotism.”
Volunteers who worked on the presentation also responded to the insults. One florist in particular, Vickie Wenstrup said she was proud of the finished product and thought the negative comments were “horrible.”
The whole series of events has allowed for people to catch sight of a more authentic side of Melania Trump that is rarely seen. While the original White House Christmas revelation was a very manufactured representation of the White House and first lady, with generic Christmas music and footage of a lone first lady walking down extravagantly decorated halls, the backlash of her choice of decorations allowed her to give a personal response. Unlike President Trump, the first lady rarely responds publically to criticism and usually has her communications director make statements on her behalf. While the subject matter is not all that significant in the grand scope of American politics, although it has been treated as a national debate, the incident resulted in a very interesting outcome that allowed the nation to see more of the rather reclusive first lady. Hopefully the public will hear more from Melania Trump in future.