Say what you will about Melania Trump, but there’s no denying that she has one of the most tolerable social media presences in the Trump family.
The first lady doesn’t rage-tweet or share ridiculous memes like Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump. She isn’t as ~extra~ as Tiffany is on Instagram, and unlike her husband, she doesn’t tweet too often. When Melania does tweet, she manages to tag the correct accounts and make use of hashtags that are directly related to her tweets, such as #BeBest, which is more than we can say for the president.
For the most part, Melania upholds a consistently tame social media persona, but there is one chaotic feature that the first lady absolutely loves. She’s obsessed with photo filters.
I’m not talking about subtle filters that lightly enhance, sharpen, or brighten images. We’re all guilty of using those. What I’m talking about are those really obvious, obnoxious filters that dramatically darken the edges of a photo or tint the entire thing to make it look like it was soaked in tea for a few days or freshly pulled out of a dusty old album from the 1950s.
In 2020 those heavy filters, which were popular in the early years of Instagram from like 2010 to 2013, are often used by our first lady, and it’s honestly a bit perplexing.
To be clear, it’s perfectly OK to add filters to your photos, but seeing images that look like they were edited by your teen self posted from a 49-year-old in the White House is truly something.
A quick scroll through Melania’s personal Twitter account, which has been inactive since Jan. 2018, shows that the first lady has been a dedicated photo filterer for years. Even her cover photo is a filtered shot of her eyes.
Melania brought her love of filters to Washington, D.C., and for the past three years has been shamelessly tweeting and Instagramming filtered pictures from the official @FLOTUS handle. She really flexed her filter game in 2019, so we gathered a few heavily-edited photo samples that are sure to strain your eyes.
Highlighting online safety is one of my #BeBest priorities. Yesterday, @billyraycyrus introduced me to the Smith family to hear about the tragic loss of their loved one from cyberbullying. Teaching positive online behaviors can ensure a safer future for our children. pic.twitter.com/3p4HfdRtTX
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) November 19, 2019
It’s unclear exactly what tools Melania uses to edit her photos, but if she’s posting straight from Twitter it feels like she’d gravitate towards the Halki filter located in the app’s photo editor. If she’s using an iPhone, perhaps she’d try out Silvertone in the Photos app, and on Instagram you can bet she loves to smash the Amaro, Hudson, Hefe, Nashville, or Mayfair buttons whenever an opportunity presents itself. Depending on the image she might even crank the Vignette editing tool to 100 to give her image a rather confusingly dark vibe.
Are these photo filters one of Melania’s only ways to really express herself? Are they a cry for help? A lot of questions come to mind. Perhaps one of the biggest is why in the world she would need (or even want) to edit photos that have probably been taken by professional White House photographers. As my friend Marc J. Franklin, a trusted professional photographer, once declared on Twitter, “The photos I carefully edited for you do NOT need the Mayfair filter on them. Or the Hudson filter on them. Or any filter on them. PLZ.”
Marc makes a great point, and I’m dying to know what the people who take photos of the Trump family think when they see them posted to official White House social media accounts with such in-your-face filters. Are they also dying to scream, “PLZ, Melania,” or are they pro-first lady filter?
I feel like former White House photographer Pete Souza might not have been jumping for joy if the Obamas slapped filters on a bunch of his photos, but luckily Michelle’s former White House account shows that she filtered far less frequently than Melania.
Sure there’s an occasional black and white image, and in 2015 Michelle Obama was clearly a fan of the infamous Lo-Fi filter with the border (and a bunch of other border filters,) but that was years ago, back when filters were in style and more easily accepted. It’s 2020 now, and Michelle Obama knows that, which is why her current personal Instagram page is nearly filter-less, with the exception of old photos.
When filtering in the future, my advice to the first lady is to scale back on the darker, more morbid, slightly concerning, doomsday-esque washes a bit and try embracing more natural-looking photographs. But you know what? If Melania wants to filter it up in the White House, she should go right ahead.
Sure, the filters confuse me sometimes and I think they look hideous on occasion, but seeing how she chooses to edit her professional photos is one of the few harmless, comical, non-threatening forms of entertainment I get from the Trump White House, so it’s one I will continue to cherish.
If Melania wants to post a photo of herself using a Santa hat filter around the holidays she should, haters be damned. Heck, maybe she should even consider downloading HUJI and putting some digital disposable camera shots out there for the history books.