Ivanka Trump has been playing an optical illusion on the entire world, leading many to ponder whether her changing appearance is a trick of the light or a considered political strategy.
The 35-year-old daughter of President Donald Trump has appeared at various high-profile events since the start of her father’s 2016 presidential campaign, but her eye colour has rarely remained the same.
Esquire magazine first noticed the bizarre phenomenon of Ms Trump’s multicoloured eyes in November 2016, noticing she sported two different colours on the same day.
At the Republican National Convention in August 2016, Ms Trump appeared at sound check with dark brown eyes, but later delivered her speech with pale green eyes.
So, what’s the deal?
Ms Trump, who is the only daughter of blue-eyed Donald Trump and his brown-eyed ex-wife, Ivana Trump, who has naturally brown eyes, but has favoured wearing green contacts since her teenage years as a model.
While Ms Trump has been a blonde since birth – aside from a brief journey to the brunette dark side as a 17-year-old in 1999 – but appears to change her eye colour at will.
Interestingly, Esquire reported representatives for Ms Trump refused to comment on her changing look, suggesting the former fashion designer may prefer to keep the trick her little secret.
Whether the makeover is a merely a beauty preference or a sneaky political tactic is up for debate.
Dr Simon Cropper, vision scientist in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne, suggests Ms Trump’s ever-changing eye colour could potentially leave her and her father’s political rivals perplexed.
“One possible effect may be to put people off guard a little by appearing different in such a way that people recognise there is something different but are not sure what it is,” Dr Cropper explains.
The First Daughter might also be seeking to reinforce her reliability when sporting her natural shade.
A 2013 study from Charles University in Prague found people regarded women with brown eyes as “more trustworthy” than their blue-eyed counterparts, when also taking facial features into account.
Alternatively, Ms Trump may just wish to stand out. Brown is the most common eye colour in the world, whereas green is the least common, with only 2 per cent of the population possessing the rare shade.
So how have her chameleon peepers managed to fly under the radar for so long? Blame humans’ visual processing habits.
“We seem to process a face holistically rather than just a collection of features,” Dr Cropper explains.
“We do, of course, process the features, but its how they hang together that is most meaningful for us. That might explain why eye colour is less important than someone’s expression in the first instance.
“Eyes are important for recognition but probably just as much for things like gaze [direction and duration] and communication, which distracts from details like the colour.”