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Melania Trump responds to backlash after wearing ‘colonial’ helmet in Africa

The Independent logo The Independent 10-10-2018 Sabrina Barr

Melania Trump has responded to the criticism that she received when she was pictured wearing a pith helmet in Africa.

The first lady’s decision to wear the hat led some to accuse her of having an “outdated understanding” of Africa, due to the association between the headwear and colonial rule in the continent.

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When questioned about the controversy in Egypt as part of her first international solo tour since her husband was sworn into office as president, Ms Trump expressed her wish for people to stop focusing on her clothes.

“You know what, we just completed an amazing trip, we went to Ghana, we went to Malawi, we went to Kenya, here we are in Egypt,” she said.

a man wearing a helmet and sitting on a bench © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

“I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear.

“That’s very important what I do, what we’re doing with USAID and what I do with my initiatives.

“I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear.”

(Video provided by The Washington Post)


The pith helmet was frequently worn by military personnel from countries including Britain, France, Spain and Italy while commanding colonial armies, which is why many people found Ms Trump’s choice to wear it in Africa highly contentious.

While Ms Trump has stated that she’d prefer for people to focus more on her actions than her sartorial choices, some people have explained why she needs to be taking greater responsibility when she wears clothes that cause controversy.

“.@FLOTUS we don’t want to talk about your fashion choices either. We’d rather talk about the message you send with your fashion choices,” one person tweeted.

“The pith helmet in Africa was a terrible look, and the ‘I Really Don’t Care’ jacket at the border was pretty awful. Colonialism is your thing?”


“For a woman that knows fashion, she knows fashion speaks and sends messages, political or otherwise,” another person commented.

“Own your responsibility in your wardrobe choices.”

Earlier this year, the first lady came under fire for wearing a jacket adorned with the slogan “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” while visiting children at the US-Mexico border who’d been separated from their parents.

Suggested: Melania Trump: Style file (Provided by Photo Services)

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