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Heads turned again towards the first family on Tuesday, Jan. 30 when President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union (SOTU) address to Congress. And this year, all of Trump’s children (minus Barron) were there to witness their father deliver his historical speech. But the cohesion seems to have ended there. According to experts, Ivanka and Tiffany Trump’s body language at State of the Union showed their nights went a bit differently.
This year was already a departure from last year’s address (which wasn’t a State of the Union, but a Joint Address) given who was there. In 2017, only Ivanka repped the younger Trump generation. So the fact that Tiffany, Eric, and Donald Jr. were all in attendance this year says a lot. And while first lady Melania Trump’s body language was its own sight to behold, the siblings’ dynamic is similarly telling.
I spoke with body language experts Dr. Lillian Glass and Susan Constantine about what the sisters seemed to be expressing. In general, Ivanka was clearly in her classic front-and-center element, while Tiffany seemed notably less confident.
What was up with the seating arrangements?
While their father preached bipartisan unity, the Trump children weren’t technically a unified front — at least, in terms of where they were seated. While the Trumps were all seated in the same general area, they weren’t in the same rows. In the first row were Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, followed by Eric and his wife Lara, and finally, Tiffany and Don Jr. in the last row. Trump Jr.’s wife Vanessa did not appear to be seated with him. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on the seating arrangements but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
It’s unclear if there was any rhyme or reason behind the seating arrangements, though it’s worth pointing out that Ivanka and Kushner, unlike the other siblings, are currently serving roles in the administration as advisers to the president. Photos from last year’s address, below, show how this year’s dynamic changed.
Last year, Melania, Ivanka, and Jared all sat together (albeit 2017 wasn’t an official SOTU). This year, the Jared-Ivanka power couple wasn’t sitting with the first lady, who had a seat in the designated box alongside the president’s special guests. Still, Ivanka managed to draw attention.
This is how the Trump children looked this year:
Ivanka stole the sibling spotlight.
Prior to the SOTU, Ivanka posted a video on Twitter showing her at the dinner table with Jared, Eric, Lara, and Tiffany. It’s unclear whether Don Jr. and or his wife Vanessa attended the sibling pre-party, as they’re not visible in the video. The first daughter seemed to carry her hostess-with-the-mostest vibes into the SOTU.
Although in some photos of the night Ivanka had a more serious expression, she definitely had a grin in several of them. Experts picked up on this.
“Ivanka shows a great deal of confidence and stands out [from] the crowd and from Jared as though she is the star,” Glass says. Constantine also noted that Ivanka was “definitely more social, even in these arenas.”
Tiffany seemed to be having a very different night from Ivanka.
Whereas Ivanka was enjoying the festivities, her younger sister didn’t seem to be as jovial, experts say.
“Tiffany is having a completely different experience,” says Constantine. “Her arms are very still, down at her sides, her eyelids are lowered, so that’s telling me that she’s in deep thought, deep processing. And you can see this in other parts of her face. Her mouth is more subdued, her cheeks are not raised — she’s not joyful, she’s actually looking down and observing her sister but not sharing the same emotion her sister is. She’s got a different dialogue playing inside her head than Ivanka.”
It’s worth noting that, if Ivanka seems more in her element, it’s probably because she is in her element. Ivanka has been a key member of both her dad’s campaign and presidency, and was likely familiar with both the people in the chamber and the fanfare around the SOTU. Tiffany, a student a Georgetown Law, has been largely out of political scenes like the one on Tuesday night.
Glass also noted how Tiffany appeared to be removed, both figuratively and literally.
“Tiffany does not seem to be as relevant a figure in this family as she is relegated to the last row away from her other siblings and their families. She looks disconnected and somewhat sad,” Glass says. She adds that Tiffany doesn’t interact with the people on either side of her, at least, in the pictures we’re able to see. Oh, and by the way — one of those people is her older brother, Don. (That’s awkward.)
In fact, at one point, Constantine thought Tiffany looked judgmental or disapproving. “Tiffany has puckered lips,” she notes. “When someone feels distaste, that’s what you see. You can see this in her eyes; they’re not bright. One eyebrow is slightly lifted in judgment [or criticism].” To be fair, though, Don Jr. doesn’t exactly look thrilled, either.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the sisters interact, so their appearance on Tuesday adds to a larger story. In analyzing Tiffany and Ivanka’s other public appearances, Constantine and Glass have interpreted how Ivanka feels about her younger sister and vice versa, and it’s a complicated dynamic. (If you’ve already wiped from memory their cringe-worthy Christmas video, here’s a quick refresher: Constantine and Glass said the sisters’ dynamic looked fake and staged.)
That said, let’s put it in perspective. Ivanka and Tiffany’s respective body languages might’ve been markedly different, but neither was near as extreme as, say, Melania Trump’s controlled choreography, or the obvious disdain of Nancy Pelosi and rest of the Democratic contingent (that is, those of the party who bothered to show up).