On 22 May 2016 the Facebook page “Proud Liberals” published the above-reproduced image purportedly depicting a bikini-clad Melania Trump (nee Knauss), wife of 2016 U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, posing for GQ magazine, set alongside a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama:
Here’s Melania Trump with gun, thong & boots. Remember when Republicans complained about Michelle Obama’s arms?
The photographic comparison caused a stir, as well as questions as to whether the woman shown on the right was indeed Mrs. Trump. The latter issue was easily resolved, as on 4 March 2016 the British version of GQ published an item titled “The Future First Lady? See Melania Trump’s Nude Photo Shoot.” GQ noted that the photo shoot with which the image in question originated antedated Donald Trump’s presidential run by 15 years, and the original publication of the photographs took place before Knauss married the current GOP frontrunner:
Over 15 years ago we profiled Donald Trump’s then-girlfriend Melania Knauss. Now his wife, our naked profile shoot on his customised Boeing 727 featured Melania wearing handcuffs, wielding diamonds, and holding a chrome pistol (It was the lad mags era after all…) It makes for some interesting reading today, since his recent success in his latest run for president[.]
Melania Trump indeed enjoyed success as a model prior to her marriage to Donald Trump, and the cover of the January 2000 GQ issue suggests the pictures of Melania seen here were likely taken in late 1999:
Melania Trump’s career as a model would commonly call for her to pose for men’s magazine photo shoots as part of her job, but they’ve been used here as part of an unfair comparison given the age of the photographs and the contexts in which they were taken. Mrs. Obama is depicted posing in her capacity as First Lady, whereas Mrs. Trump is pictured from a time in her life when worked as a model and had yet to marry a man who would later seek the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election.