Sure, most of the focus during the State of the Union was on the president — especially because it was a moment that was in danger of not even happening — but you can't have a successful recap of the event without taking note of all the key players, and at the top of that list is the first lady, Melania Trump. After a long stretch out of the public eye, the first lady rolled up to President Donald Trump's second State of the Union on Feb. 5 and took a seat amidst her guests, including two young children. While she mostly kept a low profile, Melania Trump's body language at the State of the Union might show she was more focused on the kids than the speech.
The country was playing a bit of where in the world is our first lady for the last month or so. Tuesday's State of the Union was the first time Trump had been seen in public in more than five weeks, according to The Washington Post. The publication reports that her last official public appearance was her Christmas-time trip to Iraq with President Trump. While Trump technically ended her time on the DL by attending the State of the Union, viewers didn't see much of her during her husband's speech.
Most of what the country saw of Trump during Tuesday's State of the Union was her entrance. Once again, the first lady broke from tradition and left the White House alone and arrived in her own car to the event, according to CNN. Trump made her way into the room and was met with applause which might have put her in a good mood and ready to be in the public eye again. Body language expert Traci Brown, author of How to Detect Lies, Fraud and Identity Theft: Field Guide, notes Trump's comfort in front of the crowd. "She's her confident, poised self. First ladies usually don't get a big reception like she got," she tells Elite Daily in an email.
The first family also invited a few guests to the State of the Union that brought the average age of the room way down. Grace Eline is a 9-year-old girl who battled cancer, while sixth-grader Joshua Trump was invited by the first lady after being bullied in school for sharing the same name as the presidential family. The children were invited to a very official event in a rather official capacity — it's customary for the president and first lady to invite special guests to the State of the Union — but they are still children, which left the greeting protocol a little fuzzy.
When Trump went to greet the children she put her hand on their shoulders, but then Grace reached out her hand for the first lady to shake, which Brown said was kind of an interesting and "telling" exchange. "I think it's very telling that the little girl thought it was all business and offered to shake, while Melania just wanted to touch her shoulder," she tells Elite Daily. She sees the interaction as switching between being "motherly" and businesslike.
Patti Wood, another body language expert and author of SNAP: Making The Most Of First Impressions, Body Language, And Charisma, also commented on the exchange, noting that Trump appears to be most comfortable when engaging with the children. She notes that while Trump appears to "go in and out of a mask" with her smile, her actions and expressions to Grace are genuine. She turns "to talk to [Grace] with warmth and sweetness," Wood tells Elite Daily by email.
Wood also notes that there are a few moments where Trump isn't smiling or her face looks a little tense, which she interpreted as Trump appearing as if she was "told to act nice." But in the end, she "does a very nice job interacting with real warmth to the little girl," Wood opines.
It's not that surprising that Trump would show genuine warmth when interacting with children; her entire "Be Best" initiative is dedicated to the overall well-being of children. And in general, the first lady has seemed comfortable interacting with kids, expressing obvious pleasure while reading to children and keeping her actions as first lady focused on children. All in all, it's not surprising that her actions walking into the State of the Union were focused on her smallest guests.
While the first lady kept an overall low profile, it's nice that what we did get to see of her was true to form.