First lady Melania Trump has come under attack by media outlets during her Kenya trip for wearing a white pith helmet described as a symbol of white colonial rule.”
The helmet, which she wore Friday during a safari in Nairobi, was blasted as a “common symbol of European colonial rule” by The New York Times, while CNN said it has “come to symbolize white rule.”
The [U.K.] Guardian said the helmets “were worn by European explorers and imperial administrators in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East in the 19th century before being adopted by military officers, rapidly becoming a symbol of status — and oppression.”
The first lady refused to take the bait, telling reporters Saturday that she had no comment on her wardrobe.
“We just completed an amazing trip — we went to Ghana, we went to Malawi, we went to Kenya, here we are in Egypt,” she said as reported by NPR. “I want to talk about my trip and not what I wear. That’s very important.”
The pith helmet Melania Trump wore during a Kenyan safari wasn’t her most glaring faux pas. But some see her choice of a symbol of European colonial rule as a big error on the global stage. https://t.co/509wb8PJxu
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) October 5, 2018
US first lady Melania Trump’s latest white hat evokes a colonialist comparison https://t.co/gh4IQhq630pic.twitter.com/hN6hGfzxF8
— CNN International (@cnni) October 5, 2018
At least one person on social media said that white pith helmets were also worn by Kenyans, while the first lady’s defenders called the controversy ridiculous.
To our friends across the sea, pith helmets are still (unless I am misinformed) part of the official uniform of Kenya Gov public administration officers. Nothing shocking (nor offensive) about a similar white white hat worn by guest at the Nairobi National Park yesterday. @FLOTUSpic.twitter.com/xSoZDycgLW
— HENRY MUSANGI (@HMUSANGI) October 6, 2018
Oh shut up you insufferable nitpicking whiners https://t.co/vI6F7F7A4i
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) October 5, 2018