Hurricane Harvey has wreaked devastation in America, leaving at least 30 people dead and displacing more than 30,000 from their homes. In response, President Donald Trump flew out to hard-hit Texas, declared the state a disaster area and released federal funds to help the relief effort.
He was accompanied by First Lady Melania, who apparently packed two pairs of shoes for the occasion: a pair of snakeskin stilettos for the plane and a pair of tennis shoes for the flooded disaster zone. Hardly news, one might think, when you consider the sheer scale of the human tragedy caused by the storm.
And yet her footwear sparked a social media onslaught.
Some critics said that Melania’s heels were impractical for a destination rampaged by waist-high floods, while others insisted that it was an insensitive way to dress when meeting people who had just lost their homes.
And some have claimed that the heels are symbolic of just how disconnected the Trump administration truly is from the people of the USA.
Marine One: Helping Texas heel. pic.twitter.com/mzFSRiKhS9— Nathaniel Spuewell (@natespuewell) August 29, 2017
Melania headed to a disaster zone in stilettos is my Halloween costume. pic.twitter.com/BWhUSKWVQ8— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) August 29, 2017
Melania. Is. Wearing. Six. Inch. Stiletto. Heels. To. Visit. A. Disaster. Zone.— emigre80 (@emigre80) August 29, 2017
These. People. Just....These. People. https://t.co/g6d4zGqWZU
Melania's shoe choice has me concerned. The chances of slipping seem astronomical. Hope the unpaid interns of the Secret Service are ready. pic.twitter.com/wj5DSbFDs2— eve peyser (@evepeyser) August 29, 2017
However, Melania has since found support from an unlikely source.
Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show and an outspoken critic of Trump, used his show to defend Melania.
Claiming the comments were absurd given other world events, he said: “People weren’t talking about the nuclear missile that Kim Jong Un tested, because Melania Trump apparently did something much worse.
“She went to Houston wearing high heels. Who cares?”
Noah continued: “I don’t know why anyone should care what anyone wears when they’re on their way to help people. Look at the pope, you see how he dresses? All white. He looks like he's going to a P Diddy party. But we don't say, ‘Hey he can't go out helping people dressed like that’.”
He added wryly: “And, in Melania’s defence, she lives in a permanent disaster zone and that’s what she always wears.”
The TV presenter wasn’t the only person to step in and defend Trump: Kathy Griffin, another of the president’s most vocal critics, has also tweeted a message asking people to stop shaming the First Lady over her footwear choices.
There are many reasons the Trump administration concerns me...Melania Trump's shoes aren't one of them. Not today kids.— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) August 29, 2017
“There are many reasons the Trump administration concerns me,” she said. “Melania Trump’s shoes aren’t one of them. Not today, kids.”
A spokeswoman for the First Lady echoed this sentiment in a statement to CNN, which read: “It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes.”
Of course, this isn’t the only wardrobe choice that the FLOTUS has been criticised for this week.
Both Melania and the president raised eyebrows with their decision to visit a disaster zone wearing branded campaign merchandise (which is available to buy via his online shop, of course).
Trump has been photographed in a white ‘USA’ baseball cap, while Melania has donned a black cap with the slogan ‘FLOTUS’ emblazoned across it.
Both cost $40 (approx. £31) if you would like to purchase one – although, at this time, none of the proceeds are being donated to victims of Hurricane Harvey.
If you’d prefer to spend your hard-earned cash on a charitable cause, the American Red Cross has produced a guide on how best to show support here, including how to donate, how to support local organisations and details of shelters that ensure evacuated residents aren’t separated from their pets.
Images: Rex Features