Body Language Expert Dishes on Melania Trump's Controversial Birthday Pic
On April 26, the White House Twitter account posted a congratulatory post for First Lady Melania Trump’s birthday. However, the image caused controversy among social media users, and now a body language expert has chimed in to shed light on what the pic could mean.
Melania Trump celebrated her 49th birthday on Friday, and to commemorate the occasion, the White House’s official Twitter account shared a pic of the first lady sitting alone on a sofa during President Donald Trump’s meeting with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
In the photo, Melania rocked a dark green coat and nude pumps. She kept a stoic expression in her face as a group of reporters and photographers surrounded her, aiming their cameras and mics at Trump and Babis, who are out of the frame.
Social media users immediately started to question the photo, wondering why whoever tweeted the pic chose such a sad picture of the first lady.
Can't figure out why this photo was posted. Is this the only one of her birthday? If so, it's really depressing. Sitting there, alone, with a big empty space and a bouquet prop. Weird, actually.— Kelly Rose (@KRosePDX) April 26, 2019
“To wish her a happy birthday, you posted a picture of the first lady looking miserable in a room full of people with their microphones and cameras pointed at someone else in the room? Classy,” wrote one user.
Another added, “Does this make anyone else sad? Why would any PR person choose this as a birthday picture?”
The psychology of this is so weird - is it a load of cameras and microphones focused on her husband who is just out of shot, and sitting like a "good wife" waiting for him to finish?!— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) April 26, 2019
Happy birthday! https://t.co/H63Z090Abc
As people keep discussing the photo, and dissing the White House’s handlers for the poor choices, Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of “Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma,” gave Refinery29 her take on the photo.
“From what I’ve read, this was their selection. That’s the most interesting [thing] because she’s communicating to the world that she’s all by herself on her birthday,” Wood started.
“That’s the most dramatic aspect of this whole story. If you’ll look at her facial expression, with the tight lips, and the fact that she’s not looking directly at the camera, that is suppressed anger.”
The fact that she’s sitting on the corner of the couch emphasizes she’s alone, and she crossed her arms and legs — a double-cross, as Wood calls it — suggests she is closed off.
“If you’ll look at where her arm is placed, it’s over her vulnerable belly. It’s very, very protected,” Wood added. “There’s nothing in there that she’s open to, the media, open to the others, joyous or happy — there’s no what I call ‘up’ body language that you’d typically see in celebratory photos.”
Strangely, this photo seems to be a replica of one taken last year when Melania hosted Queen Letizia of Spain for tea at the White House. Back then she was photographed alone on a sofa of the oval office with the same expression and hand placement.
President Trump didn’t acknowledge his wife’s birthday on Twitter this year, but they spend it together on a private dinner at the White House alongside Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe and his wife, Akie.