On any given day, the Daily Mail’s homepage is a trove of hyperventilating news headlines, can't-look-away photos of cosmetic surgery gone wrong, and--during the summer and holiday seasons--as much celebrity skin as the tabloid’s paparazzi can fit in a WeTransfer file after a day camped outside stars’ homes and around their beach towels.
Last Friday, however, the British-born rag gifted readers with a story best described as the Daily Mail-on-steroids: 1,500 rambling words dissecting Ivanka Trump’s outfit and body language the day after her father pulled out of the Paris climate deal, plus reporting on her family’s observance of the Jewish holiday, Shavuot, and the outrage Ivanka provoked with her tweet in “honor” of Pride Month and the LGBTQ community.
As tabloid stories go, this one was a frenzied embarrassment of riches.
In the same piece, the Mail even managed to critique the John Galliano dress Ivanka’s five-year-old daughter, Arabella, wore to synagogue that week--an “odd choice,” the authors remarked, given the anti-Semitic remarks Galliano infamously made back in 2011.
Since moving to Washington earlier this year with her husband Jared Kushner and three children, Ivanka has become a fixture on Femail, a section of MailOnline.com that delights its conservative women readers with shoppable fashions as seen on the First Daughter and other famous women.
She also makes regular appearances on the website’s “Sidebar of Shame,” where it catalogues titillating photos of celebrities emerging from the gym “make-up free,” looking “worse for the wear” after a night out partying, or leaving “little to the imagination” in a skimpy bikini.
Yet the Mail’s coverage of Ivanka is largely uncritical. While Chelsea Clinton is shamed for wearing “her favorite pair of frayed nude heels AGAIN” (a close-up photo of scuff marks on the bottom of her heels fuels the Mail’s narrative that Chelsea is unfashionable and unkempt), Ivanka is worshipped for her “elegant” style and “leg-baring” outfits, often from her “eponymous” fashion brand. Ivanka is her brand’s best model, and the Daily Mail’s conservative readers are her most loyal demographic.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: invasive photographs of the First Daughter and attendant speculation about her life in Washington are Daily Mail clickbait, while the tabloid’s obsessive documenting of her wardrobe amounts to free advertising for the Ivanka Trump brand.
The Daily Mail’s Ivanka coverage is unparalleled when it comes to decoding images of the First Daughter (fleeting smiles and “ladylike floral frocks” carry equal significance) in no less than 1,000 wildly speculative words.
For the Mail, Ivanka’s sartorial decisions are the most reliable measure of how well she’s coping with the drama that has embroiled her father’s administration.
In mid-May, for instance, the sweater she wore while leaving her house despite “soaring temperatures” was a clear sign that Ivanka was “not sweating” reports that her father attempted to thwart an FBI investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
The next day, however, Ivanka was clearly “feeling the heat” amid the controversy as she stepped out in a “pretty floral dress...undoubtedly turning heads in her ladylike ensemble.” The president may be in trouble, but Ivanka’s fans can count on her “unimpeachable style” and “unparalleled genius for ladylike prints.”
Photos of Ivanka looking the “epitome of chic” and “glamorous” as she emerged from her house last Friday were further proof of her preternatural poise in the face of adversity (“her beaming smile certainly hid any underlying stress the First Daughter may have been facing” amid rumors of a dispute between her and her father over the Paris climate agreement).
Though she reportedly failed to persuade President Trump to not pull out of the agreement, Ivanka “couldn’t have looked more happy and carefree” as she stepped out of her home.
Further down the page, however, a close-up of an unsmiling Ivanka in the Oval Office tells a different story. “Deep in thought?” The Mail wondered in its photo caption of the First Daughter, looking bitter but stoic in the fallout from Trump's Paris climate-agreement announcement.
The Mail knows nothing of Ivanka’s internal mood or thoughts at the moment she is photographed, but this does not deter their hilarious cod-psychological theorizing. Who needs reporting or first-hand quotation when you have “bold red” lipstick shades, a beautiful woman staring at the ground, or looking straight ahead, or wearing a thigh-skimming dress?
Indeed, much apparently can be gleaned from Ivanka’s facial expressions in the photos snapped by Daily Mail photographers, who are tasked with capturing every possible angle of the First Daughter whenever she leaves her D.C. home.
In mid-May, Ivanka “barely cracks a smile...on yet ANOTHER day of crisis for her father’s presidency.” After her father tweeted about sharing intelligence with Russian officials, the First Daughter “had her lips pursed” as she left the house--a clear sign that she was “deep in thought.”
She “kept her megawatt smile hidden” that day, just as she did earlier in the month when she left home in a white halter dress from her fashion line (“Always on-brand!”) following her father’s controversial firing of FBI director James Comey.
Ivanka also “kept her megawatt smile hidden” in late April ahead of her first official trip to Germany as assistant to the president (she was “deep in thought” that morning, too). But at least she looked “elegant” in a matching top and skirt that “grazed her calves” (because even her calves are sexy, and these same sexy calves may well be her political savior whatever the controversy that day).
Worryingly, Ivanka “failed to raise a smile” again earlier this week, and apparently had less patience than usual for the paps outside her home.
She “looked solemn” and “shielded her eyes with black frame sunglasses and looked away from the photographers standing outside her residence,” the Mail noted, somewhat bitterly.
But her style and sex appeal remained on point: the First Daughter “showed off her long legs in a flirty frock” from Victoria Beckham’s collection for Target-- “a steal at just $35.”
For all the speculating about why Ivanka looks pissed off when she walks out her front door, the Mail doesn’t consider that perhaps--perhaps--she’s not thrilled that a phalanx of photographers awaits her there every day. Or maybe she’s not wild about how those photographs will be used to spin some absurd tabloid conjecture based on her facial expressions and the fact that she’s “showing off” her long legs.
The Mail’s Ivanka-watch is not conducted in isolation. There’s always a thinly veiled subtext in its daily cataloguing of models and famous women. Today’s photographs of a “very happy” Bella Thorne “twerking in the street” suggest she’s moved on after her fling with Scott Disick (“Scott who?”).
While some of the Mail’s more famous targets don’t need its snarky publicity, the Bella Thornes of the world thrive on it. Likewise the Emily Ratajkowskis and other models whose nude selfies land in the Mail’s pages. (Even better if it prompts Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan to insist they put their clothes back on.)
Ivanka Trump certainly benefits from the Mail’s harebrained coverage of herself too. Even if it means being stalked by photographers, at least it helps sell her “eponymous” clothing brand.