Melania Trump wore a pith helmet in Kenya, Africa. Pith helmet reactions came on Twitter over what was a wardrobe malfunction in the "what to pack" stage of her trip. The only people who say "T.I.A" (This is Africa) are film stars in diamond movies and far-from-home expats. And mostly, the only white people who wear pith helmets in Africa are tourists heading for the world-famous Serengeti. One would have thought that those people who advise the First Lady, would have suggested the pith helmet get pitched in the bin where it belongs.

Cringeworthy colonial clothing

The history of the pith helmet is mistakenly identified as something that came from Britain to Africa. In fact, the Closet Historian notes that "the pith helmet was used by all European colonial powers, and for some time even by the United States." While the British did wear them in Africa, they and other countries like Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and France also used them as standard issue for Commonwealth troops across Africa and Asia.

The ungainly looking headgear that was clearly associated with the subjugation of indigenous people faded away after the Europeans abandoned their colonial "assets." Civilians in colonial Africa wore them to keep off the sun while they watched over the workers in plantations and on ranches.

Thankfully, outside of the military, they practically disappeared by the 1980s. Notably, though, Zimbabwe and some other units in Africa's military haul them out for ceremonial occasions.

The cringeworthy aspects of wearing pith helmets are rooted in the fact that a), they are so old-fashioned, and b), people of all races who live in Africa in the year 2018 are well aware of the historical implications of white people wearing them.

Over on Twitter, that issue was addressed very quickly.

Twitter comments on Melania Trump's helmet choice

Melania Trump was a model once, and her trip to Africa seems to have brought an opportunity for the ramrod posture and stiff-face of the runway.

Cool, clean and crisp whites are ideal for Africa, but that headgear brought reactions of hilarity and horror. @Afrisimi wrote, "Hate these types... Whether it's social obliviousness or "appreciation of colonial culture" it's blatant that the purpose for being anywhere in Africa with that attire signals your true intent for being there. Reminds me of the safari tourists in Arusha, Tanzania."

Meanwhile, the "embarrassed for you lol factor" was pointed out by @lolacocacola34, who wrote, "Cecil Rhodes though? I am beyond dead lol (laughing emoji.)" That was in reply to another Twitter user who posted, "omg mrs cecil rhodes." Another commenter just had a long row of laughing faces. One person did like the outfit but their profile describes them as a "baffled Canadian." Politics applauding insensitive and cringeworthy clothing, perhaps.

What do you think of Melania dressing up in a pith helmet in Africa? Was she ill-advised by US Ambassadors? Do you think it's a cultural insult to Africa, or just Melania Trump doing the cringeworthy tourist to Africa thing?