Would anyone notice if Melania Trump was replaced with a double?
While President Donald Trump is something of an open book, Melania Trump is more enigmatic than any recent First Lady. She says little in public, makes few appearances, has no personal cause that we know of, has hired scant staff, and we know little about the relationship she has with Donald – and what we know isn’t good. We also have very little knowledge of how she wants to use her lofty status to make the U.S. a better place.
So when a conspiracy theory recently sprung up about Melania being “replaced” with a body double to stand next to Donald while he bloviates, it had at least a patina of plausibility to it.
On October 13, President Trump made a brief statement to the press before boarding Marine One. Melania, wearing a trench coat and large sunglasses, said nothing.
Something about Melania’s appearance struck at least one Facebook user as off. She was compelled to compare the nose of Melania on October 13 to the nose of a previous Melania picture – and they didn’t line up. It truly appeared as if she looked different.
Then there was Trump’s admittedly odd reference to “my wife, Melania, who happens to be right here.” Why would he point out that Melania was standing next to him, unless she wasn’t, and he really wanted us to think he was?
Lo and behold, a conspiracy theory was born – they’re not the same person. The old Melania was gone, and a double or decoy had taken her place.
Looking at a picture or video and declaring “something isn’t right” about it is a common trope of conspiracy theorists. It allows the viewer to believe they have secret knowledge about a situation, and have cracked open something dark and hidden that the rest of us aren’t allowed to know.
In this case, the secret knowledge is that Melania Trump has been replaced by a double, and the evidence is that her nose is off, her hair is wrong, and her face is intentionally being hidden by large glasses. Something is…off.
So why would she be replaced? What’s the dark, hidden thing being kept from us?
Well, go back to what I said earlier. She comes across as aloof, cold, disinterested. She slaps her husband’s hand away in public, wears high heels to a disaster zone, and doesn’t even seem to want to be First Lady.
Someone intent on protecting the Trump presidency could see that behavior as embarrassing, potentially even harmful.
Or maybe it’s even worse than that. Maybe Melania actually separated from Donald, and his staff is trying to keep up appearances.
So a duplicate Melania would allow the “real Melania” to be shunted aside or leave, while a more suppliant version carries out the basic duties of the First Lady.
How hard would it be to tell? Melania already says little in public, and it wouldn’t be that hard to train an actress to speak with her accent, give a few brief remarks here and there, and play the doting, silent wife the rest of the time. Use big sunglasses, baggy clothes, and a little nip-and-tuck, and you’ve got a facsimile Melania that’s good enough to play the part, fool most people most of the time, and drive citizen journalists crazy.
And now I bet the wheels are turning for you, too. Why wouldn’t this be possible? Couldn’t this actually benefit President Trump, and be a solution that works for everyone?
This is why people believe conspiracy theories – and why they aren’t crazy for doing so.
There hasn’t been a First Lady like Melania in modern times, both in terms of activity and background. Her reservedness is something we’re just not used to, so rather than simply accept her as new, we make up an alternate explanation for how she behaves. The original post isn’t craziness unbound, it’s making sense out of something that doesn’t make sense.
But what if it does make sense? What if Melania Trump isn’t a body double or decoy, but a private woman faced with a public role she never bargained for, in a marriage that isn’t turning out to be what she thought it would be? And she copes by withdrawing behind statements from her office and big sunglasses?
Obviously, that’s my own biases talking. But what makes my theory less plausible than the theory that she’s being sequestered somewhere while a double carries out her duties? That’s not even a conspiracy theory, that’s the plot of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.
As for the “secret knowledge” being broadcast, it’s easily explained by different camera angles and lighting. The close-up of Melania in sunglasses is a blown-up, pixelated shot, while the other is taken with a proper zoom lens. Sure, she could be wearing a wig – or she could just have hair that’s taking a pounding from wind while her husband yammers.
And speaking of her husband, the “tell” of Trump telling everyone that Melania “happens to be right here,” maybe it’s not a tell, but just his idiosyncratic way of speaking.
Or maybe it’s evidence of something even more disturbing: a decline in cognitive ability.
After all, President Trump has forgotten to sign multiple executive orders after signing ceremonies. He appeared to have no idea where Rudy Giuliani was during a cabinet meeting, despite the former NYC mayor sitting right across from him. And during his trip to Florida after Hurricane Irma, he spoke about her as if she wanted to come with him and couldn’t – despite her standing right next to him.
Are these lapses evidence of something dark and hidden being exposed to the public? Or are they just another conspiracy theory?