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A Brief History of the Trump Family’s Awkward Body Language

First family’s unusual physical contact showcases their bizarre behavior in the spotlight

President Trump and his family have been the subject of many a meme since he became a controversial figure on the campaign trail in June 2015 – and a lot of that attention has had to do with their oft-cringeworthy body language.

In a 2011 Rolling Stone profile of the then-Celebrity Apprentice host, Trump admitted that he prefers not to shake hands because “you catch colds. You catch problems” from pressing palms, which may be why his interactions with NATO leaders Theresa May, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were so awkward at last month’s NATO Summit.

But Trump’s germaphobia doesn’t exactly explain why other members of his family seem to have similarly strange ways of approaching and connecting with other human beings (at least when cameras are present). Below, a few of the Trumps’ most talked-about body language moments – fitting snapshots of one of the most bizarre, uncomfortable First Families in history.

Ivanka doesn’t hug Marco Rubio back.
The most recent entry to the canon: a photo of Florida Sen. Rubio enthusiastically embracing a stiff Ivanka Trump. Though it is unclear whether the pair actually did embrace either before or after the picture was taken, the damage was already done.

Melania isn’t having it.
In late May, the President and the First Lady toured the Middle East, itself a headline-making event. But it was their touchdown in Israel that captivated millions in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, when the pair disembarked Air Force One in Tel Aviv and strode over toward a group of waiting dignitaries. With dozens of cameras trained on their every move, Melania boldly swatted her husband’s hand away when he tried to reach for her. The First Lady didn’t move a muscle on her face as she did this, and clips of the subtle, fiery interaction took off online.

Donald and Ivanka make audiences uncomfortable with that pat.
At the Republican National Convention last July, it was the stark contrast between his interactions with wife Melania and daughter Ivanka that sparked conversations. When he greeted Ivanka onstage after her praise-filled introduction, he placed his hands on his daughter’s lower hips and pulled her close as he kissed both her cheeks. But following his 75-minute long RNC speech at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, Trump gave Melania a lukewarm peck on the cheek and held her at arms’ length distance. The difference was not lost on viewers.

Tiffany makes it clear she’s not daddy’s little girl.
Articles about Trump’s younger daughter, Tiffany, have usually emphasized their seemingly distant relationship, and after a debate last October, she reinforced the idea when she swerved to avoid his hug and kiss. The aspiring lawyer (whose mother is Donald’s second wife Marla Maples) dodged Trump’s kiss with a laugh and a bright smile as she shifted her face away from her father.

Melania can’t hide the expression(s) on her face.
On Inauguration Day, Melania turned heads in a stunning powder blue Ralph Lauren dress reminiscent of Jackie O, but it was her reaction toward her husband that really provoked comment. At one point during the day’s ceremonies, the former model grinned widely at Trump as he looked back at her, but immediately dropped the smile as soon as he turned away. The moment prompted eagle-eyed social media users to start the faux campaign #FreeMelania.

In This Article: Donald Trump

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