Today I saw footage of the two world leaders speaking to press inside the White House. Trump is notorious for trying to overwhelm others with his powerful handshake, but it’s what he did before shaking Macron’s hand for the cameras that left me aghast. He reached over, brushed his shoulder, and said he was removing dandruff so that Macron could look “perfect.”
No, this isn’t an SNL skit, it’s Trump telling Macron he has dandruff on his suit and wiping it off pic.twitter.com/uJd33tRvYv
— Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) April 24, 2018
How embarrassing! The whole thing seemed designed to undermine and humiliate Macron, not help him out. If Trump was genuinely trying to be helpful, he could have privately pulled him aside. To point out the dandruff — if that indeed is what it was — in front of the media was poor etiquette.
We may feel compelled to speak up if someone has their zipper down or has spinach stuck in their teeth. But we do those things privately, and with tact. It’s not something you announce to everyone. Dandruff is a trickier issue; even though it’s common, pointing it out suggests that the person doesn’t groom themselves properly. It’s something that a hairdresser, or perhaps a close loved one, might address, but I’d hesitate to tell a near-stranger or work colleague. If the problem really nagged at me, I might casually say “oh, you have a bit of fluff” but I certainly wouldn’t reach over, nor would I draw attention to it in a room full of people.
Perhaps this was a power play to throw Macron off, and maybe it worked. But it definitely wasn’t kind, or good etiquette.