When Vanity Fair Mexico revealed on Thursday that an image of Melania Trump pretending to snack on a rope chain graced its February cover, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The tone-deaf issue immediately garnered backlash following Melania’s husband, Donald, attempting to drive a wedge between the United States and Mexico during his first full week as president. On Wednesday, he ushered in sweeping immigration action that called for the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the US, and stated that our southern neighbor would foot the bill. The orders come on the same day that Mexican officials Luis Videgaray and Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal visited the White House in hopes of fostering positive relations between the two nations.
The next day, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto – bowing to pressure at home – canceled his January 31 meeting with Trump. And the Trump administration followed that up by proposing a 20 percent tariff on all imports Mexico to cover the cost of the multi-billion dollar wall, which it quickly recanted after many pointed out that the costs would fall on US citizens.
The Trump Administration weakly walked back the proposed tariff, which is more than we can say for Vanity Fair Spain and Mexico Editorial Director Lourdes Garzón. Rather than heeding criticism, Garzón reportedly doubled down on her Twitter account. “Your Mexican compatriots are such crybabies,” she supposedly wrote in a now-deleted tweet.
But the complaints are valid and multifaceted. As Fusion reports, the image and accompanying story were originally published in GQ, another Condé Nast publication. Many see the cover as Melania flaunting her wealth, as her husband threatens to make Mexico pay for the wall. The story also serves to normalize the Trumps and make them appear endearing. With a focus on how Melania and Donald fell in love and what their lives are like, its a glimpse into the life of a man who from the beginning of his campaign made odious comments about Mexicans, and the undocumented community at large. Some also called out the magazine for prominently featuring someone who doesn’t represent Mexico.
Vanity Fair Mexico recently released a statement on its website claiming that the Twitter accounts for Garzón and assistant editorial director Teresa Medina’s were hacked, and that they had nothing to do with any insulting messages about Mexico. But given the lack of foresight with the cover, it’s likely the message will fall on deaf ears.