A Google search for Melania Trump goes straight to an article headlined: “10 fun facts about the new first lady’s fabulous, scandalous life”. It opens to a shoot in GQ magazine with Mrs Trump, then 26, seductively curled up on fur, wearing handcuffs and diamonds, brandishing a gun. Point to note: she looks positively ravishing. Cut to November 2016, when she’s standing on the podium alongside her husband, now 46, in a white, off-the-rack $4000 Ralph Lauren jumpsuit. She’s even lovelier.
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Since the whole world got emotionally involved in the US election circus (our politics, alas, has never been this entertaining), people are eagerly sharing these titillating images. However, they’re being passed around the way you might, curdled milk: here, try this and shudder. As if, being gloriously naked in another lifetime means Mrs Trump lacks gravitas and disqualifies her — and is yet another convincing reason why Donald Trump is so abhorrent. After the many outrageous claims and accusations made by the President-elect that he should really be called out for marrying a stunning supermodel who has posed nude, is far from the worst. It’s also worth remembering it’s the conservative Christian belt that voted Mr Donald Trump in, and clearly even their puritanical views on nudity have changed. It’s simply not the big deal it once was.
In the West, a naked picture is no longer a problem for a woman — as long as she looks good. In fact, it’s an asset. Ask singer-song writer Rihanna, a current sensation. She told Vogue that her “greatest regret” was not wearing a bedazzled thong under her sheer embellished gown at the CFDA Awards. (One would imagine it would be getting beaten up by a boyfriend and the entire world knowing but no, it was getting her look wrong.) In popular culture right now, boudoir shoots are fairly commonplace, we have access to celebrity sex tapes online and we can share our entire life on social media. Even in India, a bikini in a Hindi film has became de rigueur, a definite profile booster. In the era of Snapchat and Big Boss that document the trivialities of everyday life, this constant stream of images tell us the world loves a spectacle yet forgets it very quickly.
Mrs Trump, may carry the somewhat dubious distinction of being the only First Lady to have posed in the buff but it doesn’t matter in a world that’s officially unshockable. The new first family to inhabit the White House promises to be very interesting. Something like the American hit sitcom Modern Family which revolves around three different types of families — nuclear, step and same sex. They are all deeply flawed but represent very optimistically that the traditional norm is not the only way; and also that a woman can pose as she wishes, and still make it there.