Over the weekend, a tweeted photo of President Donald Trump made the social media rounds. In it, Trump is captured walking on the South Lawn of the White House grounds on Friday.
Now, Friday was a very windy day in Washington as a front blew through and the temperature dropped from the 60s in the morning to the 30s in the afternoon. That wind blew the President’s hair backward on his head as the photo was taken — and revealed what appeared to be a dark layer of make-up (or self tanner) around Trump’s face and abruptly ending at his jawline. Dark and then, suddenly, stark white.
Like many things that fly around the Internet, the picture would have been forgotten had it not been for — you guessed it! — Trump using his own Twitter feed to respond to it.
“More Fake News,” he wrote about the picture. “This was photoshopped, obviously, but the wind was strong and the hair looks good? Anything to demean!”
So, in search of the truth, I went looking for a photo of the same moment from another photographer — or as close to it as I could find. And this is what turned up — a picture taken from a slightly different angle by Michael Reynolds for EPA-EFE/Shutterstock. Here’s the photo:
Because the photos are not exact replicas — and I couldn’t find the exact picture that was tweeted around over the weekend — it’s hard to say whether Trump’s claim of a photo-shopping is accurate. The black and white image was tweeted by photographer William Moon, who responded to Trump saying on Twitter, “This picture was never photoshopped, but used the Apple smartphone’s photo app to adjust the color of the picture.”
In both pictures, it is clear that the front of Trump’s face is darker than his neck, hairline and near his ears. Is he slightly darker in the photo that was tweeted than in the original? Maybe? But that also could be simply the background — green vs. black — that is different.
Here’s what we do know from looking at the Reynolds image: Trump’s face is two different shades. Is it heavy makeup? Is it a tan?
The official line from the White House is that the President’s, um, glow, is the results of “good genes” and some “translucent powder” that the President applies himself before television appearances, according to a senior administration official who spoke to The New York Times last year.
Rumors of a tanning bed in the White House lave been dismissed by those in the know. Talk of self-tanner continues to kick around. (The Times quoted a Washington dermatologist saying that her professional opinion is that Trump uses some sort of self-tanning cream or lotion.)
Trump’s tan glow was part of the conversation in the 2020 race even before the photo controversy of this past weekend.
In response to a barrage of attacks from Trump on Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor’s spokesman shot back: “The President lies about everything: his fake hair, his obesity, and his spray-on tan.”
How Trump gets his glow isn’t exactly the stuff on which the election will be decided. But for a President who — we know — cares deeply about his own appearance and the look(s) of people close to him, he wasn’t going to let this one pass by without weighing in.