The unbearable awkwardness of Ivanka Trump's post-party pictures on social media

The unbearable awkwardness of Ivanka Trump's post-party pictures on social media
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram
opinion
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At this point it's like clockwork. Every time Ivanka Trump is expected to appear at a fancy event for her father — whether it be a gala or dinner or speech to Congress — we can expect her to post a picture of herself and her husband, Jared Kushner, all gussied up, with their arms around each other, on Twitter and then sometimes Instagram too.  

It's not an inherently awkward concept: Celebrities do this kind of thing all the time, posing before or after awards shows, to let their fans know what they're up to and give them a little peek inside their world. But in her case, something is just a little bit off — a little too posed, a little too exact.

"What's interesting to me is that she's doing this over and over again, like a celebrity couple would," Patti Wood, a body language speaker and author, said. "Female celebrities have these red carpet postures that they do over and over again, and she's showing that she wants to be viewed as a celebrity and this is how you will see her. She's trying to be serene, trying to be in control." 

There is just something so unnatural and kinda awkward about it all. 

The first time she did it, it was the night before her father's inauguration, after she and her husband had danced the night away at the candlelight dinner. 

There was Ivanka on the right — she's always on the right — dressed in a white custom Oscar de la Renta gown with a big black bow. Then there was Jared on the left — he's always on the left. 

"Tomorrow will be an incredible day," she promised. "Goodnight everyone!" 

What initially could be making these photos feel awkward, according to Wood, is the fact that they are posted on social media, a place where we commonly see the most candid pictures a famous person has to offer, yet Ivanka's are not candid at all. 

"Twitter is all about what's happening in this very moment," Wood said. "And pictures like this could be from anytime, anyplace or anywhere. And maybe that's what she wants to show — a solidness, a consistency of 'this is who we are.'"

Ten days after her first pic like this, she posted yet another one, but this time with no caption. 

For this one, she posed in a luxe silver Carolina Herrera gown right next to Jared, their arms wrapped around one another. Judging by the time — 12:07 a.m. Eastern — this was taken after the Alfalfa Dinner in Washington, but do they look like they've just mingled and danced the night away?

Of course they don't. That'd ruin the pattern.

A photo posted by (@) on

In this one too, as always, she's on the right and he's on the left. Her arm always hangs straight, with her hand absolutely never sitting on her waist. His arm is straight and lax too, as always. It's a pose they have down so exactly that they're starting to look more and more like paper dolls, with clothes you can change, but not the poses. 

They stare directly at the camera, like two teens waiting for their moms to take their picture before prom. 

They stare directly at the camera, like two teens waiting for their moms to take their picture before prom.

"They're highly posed, like a prom photo where you're posing," Wood said. "I think that desire to present a particular persona is there. There's no spontaneity in the photos. There's not something that stands out as special that would distinguish it from another one."

"We don't see emotional differences in these," Wood concluded.

Then on Feb. 26, after coming home from the Governors Ball, Ivanka posted a pic of herself and Jared in front of yet another fireplace, looking like they definitely had not just been partying. 

"Just arrived home after an amazing night at the White House with @realDonaldTrump, @FLOTUS and 46 governors from across the nation," Ivanka said matter-of-factly.

There they stood, again like two anxious teens waiting for someone (Is it Barron? Is it Melania?) to take their picture.

"When I'm at an event, it's like I want to take a picture right then, but that's not how they operate," Wood said. "The norm is spontaneous or fun or playful or to show whatever emotion is happening that night."

The most recent time the two of them posed exactly like this came immediately before Donald Trump's address to Congress. The background this time was different, because the background was the White House.

"Getting ready to leave the White House with @realDonaldTrump as he prepares to address Congress," Ivanka wrote, ending it with #JointSession. 

A photo posted by (@) on

Here again, Ivanka and Jared stand tall. It's a pose that kind of makes you want to tap the screen, thinking that when you do the designers and brands of the clothes they're wearing will pop up so you can see — and maybe shop for yourself. 

Given Ivanka's company's track record of trying to profit from her new position, it wouldn't be that surprising. However, for a woman already at the center of so many problems — stores keep on dropping her line, people are calling her the new Marie Antoinette — that's unlikely too. 

With all these nearly identical pictures, though, they're starting to raise the question: Why, on social media platforms that could offer a view into her world, does she insist on this formality? It's a question worth asking because it might just be behoove her to become more candid and less posed with these images, to show a more human and less exact and posed side to her existence. 

Just looking at them with no context, it's like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner want to make sure you see them as aspirational, as goals, as perfect. Is it meant to evoke envy? Is it meant to evoke a want to become more like them? 

According to Wood, the pictures — and Ivanka's presence — could actually be an effort to show at least one person in the Trump administration who seems constantly calm, cool and collected.  

"It's the antithesis of her father," Wood said. "And since he is presenting as a family rather than an individual president, it's to create a balance in the family. She's controlled. She's fine. He poses totally not controlled a lot of the time. She's the antithesis of him." 

Apparently she's going to post nearly identical pictures of herself and her husband until that fact is known by all.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Rachel Lubitz

Rachel is a senior Style writer at Mic. She previously worked for The Washington Post's Style section for more than three years. Feel free to contact her at rachel@mic.com.

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