It was bad enough that Melania Trump lamented the slaughter of African elephants even though her stepsons hunt them and her husband’s administration made it possible to import elephant trophies into America again.
But observers were further taken aback by the tone-deaf outfit the first lady wore in Kenya. She donned a startling symbol of colonial rule: a white pith helmet, once preferred by Europeans in African colonies and elsewhere.
“It’s like showing up to a meeting of African-American cotton farmers in a Confederate uniform,” tweeted Matthew Carotenuto, a historian at St. Lawrence University in New York.
The first lady “completed the stereotype trifecta: elephants, orphans and even a pith helmet,” he wrote.
— Matt Carotenuto (@matt_carotenuto) October 5, 2018
Several people ranked the first lady’s cringeworthy helmet right up there with the jacket she wore to visit detained migrant children earlier this year ― after her husband’s administration had separated immigrant kids from their parents.
The first lady traveled to Texas wearing a jacket that read: “I really don’t care, do U?”
— pauleenmwalo (@pauleenmwalo) October 5, 2018
Melania: What should I wear on my Africa trip to pay tribute to the culture and history of my hosts?WH staff: A pith helmet. Definitely a pith helmet. https://t.co/JSmNkWM2RF
— Owen Barder (@owenbarder) October 5, 2018
Meanwhile, Melania is swanning around Africa in a friggin' pith helmet. RMESHTATPOOMGH**rolling my eyes so hard they're about to pop out of my goddamn head pic.twitter.com/7u9bfbGQhe
— Tirza Fury ? (@TirzaFury) October 5, 2018
Omg the pith helmet I cannot
— Matthew Elliot (@matttbastard) October 5, 2018
A pith helmet. A friggin pith helmet.
— scaryKB (@sorrykb) October 5, 2018
She does seem to be in her "King Leopold" best
— Kylie Cereal Truther (@BunnyThemelis) October 5, 2018
why is she dressed like she’s about to exploit the belgian congo https://t.co/L11BpgMLrb
— molly ? (@socialistdogmom) October 5, 2018
Melania Trump wearing a pith helmet on her trip to "Africa" is more than a silly sartorial choice. It's a reflection of her outdated understanding of Africa. (Also, she was photographed in safari attire multiple times on this trip.) #FLOTUSinAfricaBingo https://t.co/aCnkOnPBF8
— kim yi dionne (@dadakim) October 5, 2018
— lise rakner (@li63ra) October 5, 2018
The first lady is apparent ticking off a list of things clueless visitors do while in Africa, inspiring a #FlotusinAfricabingo hashtag. The list includes items such as “Awkward dancing: Check” and “Wear exotic skin shoes: Check.”