The world has gone into conspiracy overdrive over the past week, with new, ‘mysterious’ pictures of Melania Trump sparking one of the most out-there theories of 2017.
In an internet world where sharks get picked up by hurricanes and swim through the streets, I’m making a bold statement there!
The First Lady was papped wearing large dark sunglasses and a ‘spy-like’ jacket as she accompanied her husband – President Trump – as he prepared to visit a Secret Service facility last Friday.
I'm not saying Melania trump uses a body double but trump did one time say Melania couldn't be there but was standing next to him lol
— Michele Widmer (@WidmerMichele) October 19, 2017
Speaking to journalists on the White House lawn before his trip, President Trump gestured to his wife Melania – who did look a little nervous – and commented:
My wife Melania, who happens to be right here, finds that subject to be of such vital importance, she’s very much involved.
However, people were having none of it, and Twitter promptly went berserk with many believing Melania definitely had a body double.
‘Cannapreneur’ Joe Vargas made the following explosive tweet:
This is not Melania. To think they would go this far and try and make us think it’s her on TV is mind blowing.
Makes me wonder what else is a lie.
This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing. Makes me wonder what else is a lie pic.twitter.com/JhPVmXdGit
— Joe Vargas (@JoeVargas) October 18, 2017
Joe’s theory was retweeted over 70,000 times and the ‘evidence’ began to snowball.
Some people noted how her facial structure looked ‘off’, while others fixated on the unusually ‘awful condition’ of her hair.
Some people even got freaked out by the way her nose looked somehow ‘attached’ to her sunglasses…
Facial structure is off,shed never wear grandma sunglasses and her hair isn't that dry and damaged. Or maybe it is her……
— SaRaH (@SLovesSmiles) October 18, 2017
That's what I thought! The hair is in awful condition (or it's a really bad wig) and she'd never let hers get that way. The Donald won't allow it!
— Theresa Williams (@HeyIrish) October 18, 2017
The nose looks like it's attached to the sunglasses, is anyone else seeing that? ??
— Beatrix Kiddo (@__Black_Widow) October 18, 2017
It wasn’t just her appearance which aroused suspicions.
Many people were left spooked by her uncharacteristic mannerisms, which included being more ‘animated’ and nodding more.
Pictures of Melania without sunglasses at the facility later on the same day further fanned the flames.
Curiouser and curiouser:
That was my response, “Melania only moves that much on camera if she’s walking.”
— Braddock (@Braddock1981) October 19, 2017
she never nods when Donald talks, this is a fake melania. What's going on? Is she refusing to participate?
— Jagged Star (@JaggedStar1) October 18, 2017
Agreed the real Melania is far more wooden, doesn’t nod like that
— sharp (@SharpCanines) October 18, 2017
Never seen her that animated before- v suspicious!
— anita mome (@nautileye) October 18, 2017
However, this Twilight Zone-esque rumour could well be traced back to a light-hearted tweet by journalist Marina Hyde, who tweeted a few days before Joe Vargas did.
In a recent article for The Guardian, Marina admits she meant the following tweet as a joke:
Absolutely convinced Melania is being played by a Melania impersonator these days.
Theory: she left him weeks ago
Absolutely convinced Melania is being played by a Melania impersonator these days. Theory: she left him weeks ago https://t.co/GDjX5Sr4L1
— Marina Hyde (@MarinaHyde) October 13, 2017
However, she could not have predicted the reaction which followed:
Imagine my pride to find that by Thursday morning, this cobblers had percolated all the way up to news Valhalla – AKA sections on Good Morning Britain and Sky News – having been fanned by various nutjob social media accounts in the US.
Furthermore, it had been smartened up for appearance in the Washington Post and USA Today and so on.
In the case of Sky News, the entire backdrop was given over to a splitscreen of “Melania” at the Secret Service facility and a verified Melania image, with the chyron demanding: “DOES THE FIRST LADY HAVE A BODY DOUBLE?”
She looks like Polly pretending to be Sybil in Fawlty Towers
— Samuel West (@exitthelemming) October 15, 2017
She looks like Alan Partridge's fake wife on the boat video
— katienicholson (@katiecoward) October 13, 2017
It appears Marina became the unwitting perpetrator of fake news:
Well, now. To be honest, I had feared the process of creating conspiracy-based fake news would be a lot more inconvenient – I was concerned I’d have to go to that Macedonian town and hang out with the emo teens or whoever it was whose fake news farm skewed the US election for the Russkies.
But I needn’t have worried. It turned out to be something I could do in a few moments while exiting South Kensington tube station.
@_lauramo watch her face in this video. The longer you watch it, the more it starts to look like it isn't actually her
— Chloe Morrison (@_chloemo) October 13, 2017
I think you’re actually spot on. The face has quite a different shape
— leah franchetti (@LeahFranchetti) October 13, 2017
So be careful next time you tweet something funny on the way home from work.
You could well be inadvertently cooking up a conspiracy theory which goes right to the heart of the US government…
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.