Opinion: Stop telling Melania Trump to smile

Melania and Donald Trump at Mr Trump's inauguration.
Melania and Donald Trump at Mr Trump's inauguration. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: The expectation that Melania Trump must smile at her husband's public appearances is sexist, invasive and outdated.

There is nothing more condescending than demanding a grown woman smile, like she's a child in a Christmas ballet recital.

It all kicked off when Ms Trump appeared at Barbara Bush's funeral, sitting next to Barack Obama.

Grainy, zoomed-in shots taken at the funeral show Ms Trump smiling as she speaks to President Obama.

Twitter, it's only a slight exaggeration to say, exploded.

Ms Trump not smiling at her husband's events has become a meme of its own, most notably at Mr Trump's inauguration.

There is obvious humour in the juxtaposition of her smile at the funeral compared to her husband's inauguration.

But who cares what her face does?

Melania Trump's smile wasn't elected President of the United States.

Melania Trump's smile doesn't pass laws or build walls or bar transgender troops from the military.

The people have no democratic right to Melania Trump's smile.

A smile is intensely personal. It can't be demanded, and it's certainly not owed to anyone.

Women are socialised to please. There's a burden placed on women to ease anxiety in social settings - every woman feels it - and a reassuring smile does just that.

But the forced social smile belittles women. It makes us smaller, less threatening.

You may not agree with her husband's politics, but Ms Trump's smile or lack thereof is none of your business.

As far as I'm concerned, Ms Trump can do what she wants with her face.

Melania Trump doesn't owe you a smile.

Anna Bracewell-Worrall is a digital politics producer for Newshub.

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