First Lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump often turn heads with their fashion savvy, but what they didn’t wear recently is making the news. Accompanying President Trump on his first foreign trip, the duo arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday without headscarves.
While Saudi women, including many female visitors to the kingdom, wear a veil known as a niqab and black robe called an abaya, the absence of a headdress from the FLOTUS and first daughter is significant due to a tweet from Mr. Trump two years ago.
Back in 2015, Donald Trump criticized First Lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf when she and President Barack Obama visited Saudi Arabia to honor the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and meet the newly appointed monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
On January 29, 2015, Trump tweeted:
“Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted. We have enuf enemies”
The Trump women and Mrs. Obama are not the only Western dignitaries to forego wearing the traditional headscarf in Saudi Arabia. Other visitors including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and first lady Hillary Clinton didn’t wear one during their visits to the Kingdom either. Laura Bush, as FLOTUS, typically did not wear a headdress when traveling, though she briefly wore a head scarf she received as a gift.
What did the Trumps wear? Melania dressed in an all-black pantsuit with a wide, metallic gold belt some say resembled an abaya. Ivanka wore a black-and-white full-length dress splashed with bursts of magenta.
I’ll leave it to the news commentators to debate whether the Melania and Ivanka should have worn the traditional headscarf while visiting Saudi Arabia. For me, today’s headline carries an important reminder about what Christian women need to wear each day. Just as we put on clothing, scripture reminds us to:
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision to gratify the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:14 ESV).
Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:24 ESV).
Put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11 ESV).
Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Colossians 3:10 ESV).
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience (Colossians 3:10), and above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12).
Melania and Ivanka made strategic choices about their attire in Saudi Arabia, and we also, make important decisions each day about the attitudes and actions we choose to “put on.” While our choices may not make world news like Melania and Ivanka, our attitudes and actions positively or negatively influence the world around us.
Proverbs 31:25 (ESV) says, “Strength and dignity are her clothing.”
What are you wearing today?