CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas- It is tough being Melania Trump.
When the First Lady of the United States left the White House on Tuesday (Aug 29) with her husband President Donald Trump for storm-ravaged Texas, wearing a pair of needle-thin stiletto pumps, complete with black pegged trousers, black shades and an olive green bomber jacket, the Internet mob immediately descended upon her with scorn and mockery.
"Melania over here looking like Flood Watch Barbie," writer Maria Del Russo tweeted.
"Help is on the way, Texas! Don't worry, Melania has her special storm stilettos," television writer-producer Brad Wollack quipped.
Political commentator Zerlina Maxwell mused on Twitter if this is what someone should wear to go meet people "who've lost all of their belongings".
Hurrican Harvey has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas, killing at least 12 people and paralysing Houston. City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee the area. Damage was expected to run well into tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters.
However, by the time Air Force One had landed in Corpus Christi International Airport, Mrs Trump looked altogether more grounded, in white sneakers and crisp white shirt, with a ponytail pulled through a black baseball cap emblazoned with the word "FLOTUS".
In response to the critical reaction, Stephanie Grisham, Mrs Trump's communications director, e-mailed the following statement: "It's sad that we have an active and ongoing natural disaster in Texas, and people are worried about her shoes."
While noting that it was a "fair point, to a certain extent", The New York Times' Vanessa Friedman wrote: "It is precisely the superficial nature of clothing, the fact that garments are immediately accessible to all, that makes them the go-to stand-in for more nuanced, complicated emotions and issues.
"Trump's heels, after all - they appear to be classic Manolo Blahniks - are redolent of a certain cliched kind of femininity: decorative, impractical, expensive, elitist (all adjectives often associated with the brand 'Trump')."
There were some voices that came to Mrs Trump's defence.
The Boston Globe appealed for calm, pointing out that the former supermodel "likely feels pretty comfortable in four-inch heels" and was not really wearing the heels in a disaster zone.
There were more important things to worry about instead of Mrs Trump's choice of footwear, said a piece in Mashable.
"There's a time and a place for criticism and for calling out behaviour so inappropriate and disrespectful that it can't possibly be ignored," wrote Nicole Gallucci. "The time is not now. Now, the focus should remain on Houston, not heels."
Sources: The New York Times, AFP, Reuters