Opinion

High heels or healing after Harvey? Focusing on what really matters

Posted September 4

I saw a picture the other day of first lady Melania Trump headed for Corpus Christi, Texas, in a pair of black stiletto high heels. Media outlets were going wild over her outfit of choice, painting her as an out-of-touch, insensitive woman who was more worried about fashion than helping people waist-deep in floodwater.

The picture was taken on her way to Air Force One. Before the Trumps landed, Melania changed into a slightly more practical and disaster-friendly outfit of baseball cap and white sneakers.

“It’s sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes,” said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's communications director.

Agreed. It’s ridiculous, actually, that this is even a news story. Who cares what she chooses to wear while flying? Why does it matter?

It doesn’t, except for the fact that when you are the FLOTUS, the entire nation is literally watching every move you make. Melania knows this. Whether she was trying to be stylish doesn’t matter. It’s the perception. It looks bad to be dressed so nicely when the people you are going to visit only have the clothes on their backs or to pick out a pair of $500 Manolo shoes when there are children with bare feet wrapped in blankets. Maybe she could have thought twice about the six-inch heels. But maybe everyone can also stop worrying about the first lady’s fashion and turn their focus to the incredible faith of the people of Houston.

I have several friends who live in and around Houston, and it is amazing to see how they have dealt with disaster. Not one post on social media has been bitter. Every thought has been of hope and rebuilding. Yes, there have been heavy moments and devastating realities, but they are determined to look for the rainbows after the storm.

“It has been a scary and heartbreaking few days here … and the road ahead will be long. But today we watched the forecast change before our eyes — we all FELT the presence of God and, no matter our faith, we knew he had heard and answered the prayers of many,” my friend Klarissa Pinegar posted after she saw the first few rays of sunshine finally break through the clouds.

Author and researcher Brene Brown is a Texas native who has been posting updates on her Instagram page. Her most recent video shows her standing in what looks like a gymnasium, a headband pulling her hair back to reveal a makeup-free face and a sweatshirt. This is a woman who is known around the world, and she looks absolutely and completely normal and down-to-earth. She posted about children and adults needing fresh new pairs of underwear.

Thinking this was a very easy way to offer some kind of help, I went online and picked out a pack of boys 2T and 3T underwear to send. And then I thought about my boys. I wondered what I would do if I were in Houston right now. I imagined my 2-year-old boy sitting next to me on a roof, watching the water rise. I imagined my other three boys, scared and shivering, wondering if their friends were OK or when they would be able to ride their bikes down the road again. What would we need? Everything. We would need everything. We would need people, loved ones and complete strangers, to help us get through.

I clicked on “purchase” and sent that small package of little boys underwear to someone in Texas, a mom like me, who had boys like mine, who more than anything wants them to be clean and dry and safe.

Let’s turn our focus away from the frivolous and focus on the things that matter most: helping Texas heal.

We got your back, Houston. (And we’ve also got your bottoms.)

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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