A video of Melania Trump at her husband’s inauguration has been circling the Internet, in which she smiles at Donald Trump until he looks away, and then her faces returns to a scowl.


The supposedly fake smile she posed with for Donald came as North Carolina Rev. Franklin Graham recites a prayer for his family. “It’s my prayer that God will bless you, your family, your administration, and may He bless America,” Graham says, as Donald spins around to smile at Melania. She returns the smile, but as soon as Donald turns back, she looks down.

Many Twitter users caught onto this and started the #FreeMelania campaign, with one user saying “it really feels like he is holding her hostage.” Many jokes circled the net in regard to this moment.

What had already become a meme about Michelle Obama was recycled for Melania – a photo of Melania handing Obama a Tiffany gift box. At first, the meme was aimed at Obama’s face when she received the gift, but now it has been repurposed to joke that all the box held was a note that read, “HELP.”

While many find this hashtag to be a brief light moment, others do not take it so kindly. “#FreeMelania is funny, but Melania Trump promoted birtherism on TV, and helped to normalize her husband,” wrote another user. “She is not an innocent woman.”

Melania has stayed with her husband, even through the Access Hollywood tape scandal, in which he admitted to groping women without their permission. The Internet began to feel badly for Melania in the aftermath of the video release, but she was resilient. “People think and talk about me like, ‘Oh, Melania, oh, poor Melania.’ Don’t feel sorry for me,” she said in an interview. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I can handle everything.”

“The #FreeMelania meme strips her of any agency (which is sexist) and undermines her own role in the rise of Donald Trump and the havoc he is set to wreak on American democracy,” explains one article in The Independent. “Sympathising with her is like sympathising with Marie Antoinette as she watched the masses starve while living in a golden tower.”

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