After declaring on Monday's Fox & Friends that her time in the White House thus far had been marked by “a level of viciousness that I was not expecting,” Ivanka Trump was hit with some blowback. Huffington Post: “Earth to Ivanka Trump: Your Dad Invented Vicious.” CNN: Those “10 words … blew up Ivanka’s reintroduction tour.”
So Ivanka retreated to the safety of Instagram. Around midday on Monday, she posted a clip of her in a familiar pose: blowing a kiss. She stands on what looks like the sunny balcony of an office building in Manhattan in one of her trademark sleeveless shift dresses. The caption: “Bye NYC! Until next time... 😘”
Ivanka loves the kissy-face. A Google image search yields endless examples: her lips flirtily puckered in front of the New York City skyline, in the back seat of a car, at her dad's inauguration. When she posts Instagram “stories,” they often end with a blown-kiss signoff. It is Ivanka’s signature gesture. Even when she’s not air-kissing, she tends to evoke it, whether she’s kissing her actual baby or engaging in some light duckface. Ivanka, ever appropriate, know not to blow kisses when she’s meeting the pope or strategizing with a team of advisers. But when she’s on her own and having fun, just us gals, nearly without fail she’ll fall back on her favorite move.
This makes perfect branding sense. Ivanka loves to convey “soft-edged materfamilias wrongly cast as a brutal political henchwoman,” and the kissy-face is like the visual embodiment of her awkward everywomanism. Her “movement”-cum-book Women Who Work was her attempt to cast herself as a Sheryl Sandberg–like mogul, but one who’s more feminine and approachable, someone who wants to preserve the traditional silhouettes of the patriarchy (shift dresses!) rather than smash it. With her air kisses, she seems to say, “Who, me?” Why, she is literally sending love into the world! If this isn’t making “a positive impact in the lives of many people,” which she stated as her goal on Fox & Friends, what is?
But if Ivanka is trying to cast herself as an everywoman, the kissy-face feels misguided: Movie stars air-kiss; so do European socialites. Every air kiss sends the message that you’ll never get a real kiss from the real her, only some aerial approximation. The air kiss feels like a girlish tic she's developed as a way to humanize herself, a task she is congenitally terrible at. As Broadly once put it, “Ivanka Trump doesn't have a personality—she has a content strategy.” When Ivanka makes kissy-faces, she is attempting to reveal a bit of her totally normal, approachable personality, but all she’s really revealing is that she … loves blowing kisses, and like a robotic processing human code, thinks it makes her look more fun.