If, for whatever reason, you happened to tune into Fox News on Wednesday evening, you may have done a double, triple — even a quadruple take.
"Is that Melania ... Trump?" you may have wondered, even if you couldn't place your finger on why she looked a little different.
Your hunch would have been correct: The woman seated opposite Sean Hannity to discuss her love for the troops and her distaste for the media, was, indeed, the First Lady. However, she was sporting a much lighter, brighter 'do than we've seen her wear, well, ever.
In the decades she's been in the spotlight, the Slovenia native has always sported a range of brunette shades, from auburn to a rich chocolate, but never anything that qualifies as blonde.
For reference, here she is in July of this year:
Relative to Trump's first two very blonde previous wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, Melania was the one brunette holdout — standing out not just amongst his wives, but also his cable-ready female talking heads, including Fox News contributing guest Ann Coulter, adviser Kellyanne Conway, and the young Trump firebrand, Tomi Lahren.
Her slow transition may have been in the works for a while — photos from the White House Turkey Pardon a few weeks back seem to hint that she headed in the blonde direction. "The best way to transition from brunette to blonde is in multiple stages," Kyle White of Oscar Blandi salons confirmed to InStyle.
"The lighter, honey blonde color is a softer look on the First Lady," he added of the hue. Indeed, the rich warm undertones have a certain suburban approachability about them, what Amy Larocca described in a 2017 piece for The Cut on the politics of blondness as "less blonde as sexy and more blonde as safe."
"This blonde is a reminder, perhaps, of what many Americans feel is truly at stake in a newly global world," she wrote.
With Melania's approval ratings plummeting 11 percent between October, when she had a 54 percent approval, to now, with just 43 percent approval, the move may be interpreted as an attempt to connect with those loyal Trump supporters who find comfort in the Megyn Kelly clones that pepper conservative television. (Trump peaked at 57 percent approval in May, just weeks before she "disappeared" for more than a month.)
Twitter, too, weighed in on the new look, with some (more hilarious) takes on the fresh color:
I can't believe they cast Jennifer Coolidge as the new Melania! pic.twitter.com/TdlpLE2tJc— Ashley Mayer (@ashleymayer) December 13, 2018
Wait -— Lisa Ann Walter (@LisaAnnWalter) December 13, 2018
Why is this Fox News Alert not:
“MELANIA GOES BLONDE- in desperate attempt to divert Trump’s attention from Ivanka & looming impeachment; her primary GRU directive. https://t.co/ZXQavhRHdv
Michelle Obama's book: Becoming— Randi Mayem Singer (@rmayemsinger) December 13, 2018
Melania Trump's book: Becoming Unrecognizable pic.twitter.com/fEMzH049mR
Her White House foil, First Daughter Ivanka Trump, has also been experimenting with her level of blondeness — though to a different effect.
Rather than a warm, honey blonde, Ivanka's gone in the platinum direction — and the cool tone and the pin straight style sends a message of power, control, and possible political ambition. Thus, the two women serve to create a balance in the White House — Ivanka as the (relatively) cool headed leader in the West Wing, and Melania as the warm, safe, and now familiarly blonde presence in the East Wing.
A first lady has never, in the past, made such a drastic change (Michelle Obama cut bangs during her tenure, but that was minor compared to this). But then again, Melania has never followed in the footsteps of past first ladies.