First lady’s ‘don’t care’ jacket is a gift to memers online

Photo: AP

I really don’t care, do u?

Perhaps one day first lady Melania Trump will use her own words to illuminate her fashion “don’t care” message. Until that theoretical moment, we have the memes on one of the digisphere’s most perfect blank canvases: Her green $39 jacket — one so five seasons ago, no less.

Tony European labels have been more Mrs. Trump’s de rigueur, until Thursday’s trip to a Texas center housing some of the more than 2,300 migrant children sent there after their families entered the U.S. illegally. When the first lady left Washington and returned, it was in the Zara jacket with the message heard ’round the interwebs scrawled graffiti-style in white block letters on the back. (She switched to a different jacket for the visit)

It’s the back, where “I really don’t care, do u?” was placed by the global mass market brand Zara, that has become social media’s playground, from the compassionate to the downright raunchy. Whatever Mrs. Trump may or may not have intended — her spokeswoman declared “it’s a jacket” with “no hidden message” — the outerwear’s doctored image not only spread rapidly among those looking to sound off, but to raise money benefiting children like those the first lady visited.

If Mrs. Trump’s jacket, from Zara’s spring-summer 2016 collection, was some sort of counter-message, or a clear diss of the “fake news media” as her husband tweeted, the memes’ clear winner is a reconfiguring to read, simply: “I really do care, do you?” Other messages shouted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: “Rise up” and “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Not all the fast-spreading, reinvented backs of jackets have been posted by detractors. Some used the military green soapbox to revisit birther theories involving former President Barack Obama.

But the majority of the messages were spicy retorts, such as “November is coming” (others went with the midterm elections instead) and “I wore the heels on purpose,” referring to Mrs. Trump’s sky-high footwear for a trip aboard Air Force One to, again, Texas after Hurricane Harvey. Jackets also read “Robert Mueller is my hero,” ”I voted for Hillary” and “I believe Stormy Daniels.” One used a sentiment that also fit nicely on baseball-style caps of the same fatigue green, “Let them eat cake.”

The Statue of Liberty was bandied about. A hand-drawn version shows the old gal holding the hand of a little pink-shirted girl, the other hand raised high with her torch in place. Liberty is in Mrs. Trump’s jacket and declares: “We should all care.”

Celebrities got into the act, weighing in with memes and mere words. The ever-Instagram present actress Busy Philipps went DIY in a beachy top with yellow stick-on letters used by kids for their art projects spelling out, “I care, do u?”

Some politicians also did it themselves. Rep. Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, taped a hand-drawn sign to her back reading “I care” and tweeted out a photo of herself next to one of Mrs. Trump boarding Thursday’s plane to Texas with a personalized message: “Hey #FLOTUS, try this on for size. #WhoWoreItBest #ICare.”

Melania Trump dons ‘I really don’t care, do u?’ jacket

Melania Trump went to Texas to show she cared about migrant children. Her fashion choice carried a baffling counter-message.

The first lady wore a green, hooded military jacket from the fast-fashion brand Zara that read “I really don’t care, do u?” both as she departed and returned to Washington. The words were printed in white, in graffiti-style, on the jacket’s back.

When asked what message the first lady intended to send, spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe. “

Grisham underscored that message in a tweet with the hashtags #SheCares and #ItsJustAJacket.

But President Donald Trump offered his own interpretation, tweeting that it “refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”

Mrs. Trump changed into a pale yellow jacket before the plane landed in McAllen, Texas, for a visit to the Upbring New Hope Children’s Center, which houses 55 migrant children. But even after questions arose about her attire, Mrs. Trump was back in the green jacket when she returned to Washington in 80-degree weather. She has shown that she won’t bow to public pressure or expectations about how she should comport herself as first lady.

Like it or not, Mrs. Trump’s jacket, which reportedly retailed at $39, had her trending on Twitter. One outraged user borrowed an image of the back of the jacket to promote groups working on behalf of immigrant children.

Zara, a Spain-based company with a large presence in the United States and around the world, had no comment. The jacket belongs to the Zara’s spring-summer 2016 season and is no longer for sale by the company, though a few of the jackets popped up online for resale at a moderate profit for sellers.

The youthful jacket sharply contrasts with the first lady’s typically bold, foreign-flavored and higher-priced wardrobe. In public appearances, the first lady has worn designs by Dolce & Gabbana (remember her $51,500 D&G jacket at the G-7 summit in Italy?), Del Pozo, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Givenchy and Valentino, often with daringly high Christian Louboutin heels.

It’s not the first time the first lady’s fashion choices have caused a stir.

Last August, a pair of Mrs. Trump’s signature spike heels earned her a round of bafflement as she boarded Air Force One bound for Texas to tour devastation after Hurricane Harvey. She had changed into white sneakers by the time she and the president landed.

On the other side of the political aisle, former first lady Michelle Obama routinely caught grief from some critics for going sleeveless. Her husband, President Barack Obama, was the talk of a 24-hour news cycle when he donned a tan suit in 2014 for a media briefing.

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