Assistant Professor in the Fashion Design department and alum Abigail Glaum-Lathbury (BFA 2006), spoke to the Chicago Tribune about First Lady Melania Trump’s fashion choices during her recent trip to Kenya. The first lady wore a white pith helmet during her visit which is viewed by some as a symbol of colonialism.
During the interview Chicago Tribune’s Alison Bowen asked Glaum-Lathbury what she thought about the First Lady’s fashion choices and if it is possible for a public figure to ever escape scrutiny. Glaum-Lathbury posited that as public figures women will continue to be scrutinized for their clothing until there is a standard uniform for women like the standard suits worn by most men. “That comes back to the point of history and context. If you’re wearing a wedding dress on the subway, there’s an incongruity there because of the context,” Glaum-Lathbury told Chicago Tribune. “Again, she is in a position of power. These are specific public events that she is going to that are relevant for current events, and so to pretend that they’re not seems like wishful thinking, to wish a lesser significance on something than it actually has.” She also suggested that the conversation would be different if it were about a man in politics instead of a woman. Glaum-Lathbury’s advice for First Lady Melania Trump’s stylists was to think about the criticism before dismissing it and to stop pretending that clothing choices don’t matter when they do.