Melania Trump has had a busy week: her popularity fell off a cliff, she spilled on her husband in just her second sit-down interview since becoming First Lady and went suddenly blonde.
Her fun new hair change – switching her signature chestnut brown for a shade more closely resembling that of her president husband, Donald Trump – was a big deal for the internet.
“Melania now looks like the pretty popular girl from high school who now lives in a trailer park with out-of-shape, out-of-work boyfriend,” said one Twitter user.
“Note to Melania: ‘never use Trump’s hair and make-up guy’,” said another. A third suggested “Trump made Melania dye her hair so she looks more like Ivanka.”
But hair aside – more of that later – people aren’t liking what they’re seeing with FLOTUS at the moment. Her favourability rating has plunged, according to a new CNN poll.
After maintaining positive polling numbers for most of 2018, in two months the First Lady’s favourability has slipped from 54 per cent in October, to 43 per cent.
Melania’s popularity is now at its lowest point since early 2017, just before her husband’s inauguration.
So what’s gone wrong for the former model?
She was accused of overstepping her FLOTUS remit by publicly demanding the firing of deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel. The two women had reportedly disagreed about the seating plan on a plane taking Melania for her solo trip to Africa.
She also made headlines for claiming in an interview: “I could say that I’m the most bullied person in the world.”
Then Melania was criticised during her October trip to Egypt when she talked about the ‘Me Too’ movement, saying although she stands with women, any who accuse men of sexual misconduct must have “hard evidence”.
It all means that “the illusion that she was in some way a mollifying voice in this White House has been largely dispelled”, according to White House author Kate Andersen Brower.
The other problem for Mrs Trump, according to reports, is that she seems closer than ever to her husband, 72, which may be causing her poll numbers to plunge.
Of late, the Trumps have looked a cosy double act, rubbing each other’s backs boarding Air Force One and holding hands at the December 5 funeral of former president George H.W. Bush, instead of Melania, 48, rebuffing her husband’s attempts to touch her, as she has done in the past.
She was supportive of Mr Trump when she sat down with Fox News’ Sean Hannity for an interview on board the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier which aired on Wednesday (US time).
“I don’t agree with his tone sometimes, and tell him that … I said to him, ‘I don’t think you need to be that out’,” she said.
“It’s his decision. He knows the consequences. He’s an adult. But he’s a fighter. He’s the fighter.”
She was less kind about the media, saying they are often too focused on “gossip” and “nonsense” and should hone in “on the substance” of the Trump White House.
“I know I will get the criticism – from the public or from the media – but I will do what is right and what I feel is right for the country and for the people.
“That’s why I say I want to stay true to myself and listen to myself and what to do and what is right, what is wrong and live a meaningful life every day.”
While living meaningfully, Melania still found time to sort out the new hair colour, which she debuted during the Fox News interview to mixed response.
“Several people wondered aloud why Trump is gradually becoming more like ‘Stifler’s mom’,” said Vanity Fair, referencing Jennifer Coolidge’s American Pie character.
“Still more looked around and counted how many people in Trump’s life who share the shade: his daughter, a couple of sons, a couple ex-wives, Stormy Daniels, and all the female anchors on Fox & Friends.”
Melania's new hair color reminds me of something… pic.twitter.com/xrASXWaIEQ
— She persisted (@CaseyHinds) December 13, 2018
In the past, Melania’s love of sending messages via her famously literal dressing has extended to her hair, with her longtime stylist Mordechai Alvow saying in 2016 the steadiness of her look – no ponytails or side parts – was deliberate.
“It was very important psychologically to let people know who she is and show some stability with the look,” said Mr Alvow.
In August, the stylist spoke out again about Melania to Refinery29:
“There is a look about her where it’s almost like she’s the mother of the public. You want your mother to have one steady look.”