Melania and Ivanka Trump exited Air Force One in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday morning, without donning the traditional headscarf expected of women in the conservative Islamic country.
Instead, according to White House Wardrobe on Instagram, Melania Trump joined her husband for his first major foreign trip wearing a black Stella McCartney jumpsuit, which retails for $1495, cinched at the waist with a heavy gold belt and dotted with gold accessories.
Daughter Ivanka, who along with her husband Jared Kushner, is serving as a senior White House aide on the trip, also opted for an ankle-length look. She wore a bold floral maxi dress by Cedric Charlier, which retails for around $1400. Ivanka even refused to wear the head-covering in what appeared to be official meetings with Saudi government officials.
The two were certainly well-covered, in homage to Saudi Arabia’s extremely strict dress code for women, which requires that they be covered, nearly head to toe, at all times.
But the pair’s refusal to wear a headscarf is certainly a political statement that expresses support for Saudi Arabia’s oppressed female population – a statement that Donald Trump himself once thought controversial, when Michelle Obama did it.
Back in 2015, Michelle Obama accompanied her husband, President Barack Obama, on a trip to the Middle East and also opted not to wear the traditional headscarf, a matter of concern to Trump, the private citizen.
Trump, though, is now taking a much harsher stand on Islam and the governments that harbor its more radical elements. So its no surprise that Melania wouldn’t be pressured to cover up as she joins her husband.
And Melania and Ivanka’s decision was met with widespread approval on social media, among both conservatives and liberals, shocking for an administration that frequently draws ire from both sides of the aisle.
Donald, himself, broke with protocol and refused to bow to the Saudi officials, indicating, instead that he preferred to shake hands – a more Western tradition – while standing stick straight.
Official State Department policy dictates that the American President should not bow to any foreign leader, regardless of tradition, but President Obama regularly broke that protocol, and in 2009 – his first meeting with Saudi leadership at the G20 summit – bowed to leaders there during their greeting. Then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was forced to defend the move to a typically sympathetic press.