Donald Trump took wife Melania to Iraq to pay US troops a surprise visit this Christmas.
The President and First Lady posed for selfies, shook hands with military personnel, and packed on the PDA for an awkward-looking kiss.
But what did the kiss and their actions during the visit reveal about the couple?
Here’s what body language expert Judi James made of the whole thing…
Visiting troops in Iraq, Trump seemed to use his stage time to create more of a celebrity-looking appearance than a presidential one, treating his audience to some comedic mugging plus a rare Xmas PDA for wife Melania.
Trump’s body language in ‘celebrity’ mode like this shows the man in his natural environment, dominating the spotlight while performing some ritualistic tie-signs to his audience to suggest – like most stand-up comics – that he is actually just one of them.
Trump’s ‘selfie face’ is telling because the muscular contortions seem aimed at creating an old-school heroic, leadership look. He bares his clenched upper teeth in an asymmetric smile that involves an upward twist of the right hand corner to suggest the kind of complex screen style of John Wayne, whose lop-sided grins suggested laid-back dominance.
Trump tops this smile off with the classic Western hero trait of the incongruent frown. Melania’s selfie smile is in complete contrast to her husband’s. Her expression is almost totally symmetric and congruent, with a lovely eye-smile topping an evenly-spread mouth smile, signalling an ability to be more straightforward in terms of emotional signalling.
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Trump’s stage appearance involves him walking ahead of his wife here, presenting himself as the star of the show, rather than part of a double act. He performs a double thumbs-up gesture to create rapport with his audience but his thumbs are cocked towards his torso, making them a ‘look at me’ signal too.
His slewed smile looks ironic and again aimed at creating bonds with his audience, as in ‘It’s all about me but I get you guys too’. His body language signals arrogance, but he’s inviting his audience to share the joke too.
A PDA between Trump and Melania is a rare event and this cheek kiss looks awkward and lacking in symmetry. Again their approaches are different, with Trump clutching his wife’s upper arm tightly enough to make his knuckles whiten while Melania appears to barely lay her splayed hand on his bicep with no sign of holding or clutching.
Melania appears to keep their torsos apart as they kiss, stretching her neck in to achieve face-closeness instead. Trump’s kissing style looks rather dominant, with a raised chin and fully pursed lips that touch his wife’s face on her upper cheekbone.
This rather awkward style of cheek kiss with contrasting touch and little in the way of choreography would normally suggest a social or business greeting or farewell kiss between colleagues or friends, suggesting the Trump’s might feel rather awkward performing PDAs for the cameras.
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