Hope Hicks has officially left the White House, but her affectionate goodbye to President Trump has given the internet life.
On Thursday, Hicks, the 29-year-old former communications director, bid adieu to the POTUS outside the White House before reporters.
In video footage of the pair’s farewell, Trump, 71, offered his hand to Hicks and put his arm around her while giving her a kiss on the cheek, then later, he seemingly leans in for another peck at the precise moment Hicks turns to leave.
Twitter winced at the exchange.
According to body language expert Lillian Glass, PhD, the vibe between Trump and Hicks is pure ambivalence.
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“The president values Hope for her loyalty — what he considers the most important trait — yet he’s both sad and angry over her departure,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Hicks feels equally conflicted, Glass adds. Although Hicks is smiling, “her hand is cupped into a semi-fist around her sunglasses, signifying anger, and her limp wrist resting in her pelvic area, vulnerability.”
Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, agrees that Hicks’s hands reveal discomfort.
“When we first see Hope standing next to Trump, her hands are in a ‘handcuff’ pose — close together as though she’s being shackled,” Wood tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s not how confident, powerful women hold themselves.”
What’s more, after the pair first shakes hands, Hicks slaps her hand against her upper thigh. “It suggests self-flagellation, a way to rid the tension or say, ‘OK, that’s over,’” says Wood.
Other signs the relationship is complex: At the beginning of the footage, Trump points to Hicks, seemingly to direct attention to her, a move Wood calls a display of dominance. And Hicks’s hair flips, a flirty, feminine gesture, contrasts with what’s occurring: “The destabilization of an extremely close relationship.”
All black outfit speaks volumes https://t.co/y5ylmliQvG— Miranda Green (@mirandacgreen) March 29, 2018
This is so staged and weird. https://t.co/cA38tw8C7k— JackiSchechner (@JackiSchechner) March 29, 2018
Lol the fact that he already secured the kiss and then went for it Again is what makes this so wild.— Do It For The Gramsci (@GramsciAF) March 30, 2018
The pair’s affection is also noteworthy given the wide space between their bodies. “Trump’s kiss could be reflexive — in Hollywood, people often kiss hello and goodbye — or his way of conveying that there are no hard feelings,” says Glass.
Interestingly, both experts question whether Trump actually leaned in for a second kiss or if he was simply grasping to close their physical gap. “When the president walks away, he looks reflective and sad,” says Glass. “He hasn’t forgiven her for leaving.”
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