Our Body Language Experts Reveal How Melania Trump Really Feels About Ivanka

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump have been in each other's lives for decades. The former first lady met Donald Trump in September 1998 at a New York Fashion Week party. When they started dating, she was 28 and he was 52. Donald was married twice before he connected with Melania, and he had four children from his previous relationships. 

Donald and his first wife, Ivana Trump, shared Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump. Then there was Tiffany Trump, born on October 13, 1993, whom he shared with his second wife, Marla Maples. While much has been said about her dynamic with Donald's kids, Melania's relationship with Ivanka may very well be the one that receives the most attention. 

While Melania and Donald are 24 years apart in age, Melania and Ivanka are just under 12 years apart. We certainly can't imagine the former first lady ever giving Ivanka a time-out, but Melania did assume the role of stepmom role for Donald's children when they married in January 2005 at a lavish and star-studded wedding in Florida. While Melania herself has undergone a notable transformation, so has her relationship with Ivanka. The two women have navigated motherhood, marriage, and Donald's controversial political career all under intense public scrutiny. Throughout, Melania has dropped telling signs through her body language about her feelings towards Ivanka. Women Lifestyle reached out to body language experts to get their exclusive takes. 

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump seemed 'tense' early on

In one of the first-ever photographs of Melania Trump (then Melania Knauss), Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump, there's certainly some interesting body language. In late 1999, the trio attended a New York fashion show together. At the event, Melania looked serious, while Donald and Ivanka were all smiles. At that point, Melania and her soon-to-be husband had been going out for less than two years. 

Women Lifestyle spoke exclusively with Nicole Moore, body language expert and celebrity love advisor, about Melania's feelings towards Ivanka judging by their body language in the above photo. "Melania does appear tense and somewhat distant from Donald in this picture," Moore explained. "Although Donald is hugging both Melania and Ivanka in this picture, his body is leaning slightly toward his daughter, and he's standing closer to her. While Ivanka's body is softer and she is yielding to her father's embrace, as evidenced by the slight lean in her body toward him, Melania is stiff with her body upright." The body language expert further elaborated that Melania was well aware of Donald's closeness to Ivanka and even his preference for Ivanka's company over hers. 

"Melania's body language here is communicating mixed feelings," Moore asserted. "She's standing somewhat close to Donald, however, she's not yielding to his embrace or leaning into him as you'd expect a romantic partner to do." Moore speculated the newness of her relationship with Donald had something to do with why Melania seemed less relaxed than Ivanka. 

Ivanka Trump attended the Met Gala with her dad and his new fiancée

Donald Trump and Melania Trump (then Melania Knauss) attended the Met Gala in 2004 as a newly engaged couple. Ivanka Trump was at the event too, and she posed with her father and his new fiancée. Previously, the businesswoman had talked about Melania in an interview with New York Magazine and said overwhelmingly positive things. Melania seemed more laidback at this event, even with Donald's attention still on Ivanka, but we have to wonder if Melania perceived her as a third wheel on their big night. 

Body language expert and celebrity love advisor Nicole Moore detailed Melania's feelings to Women Lifestyle. "Melania does appear to be genuinely happy in this picture, as her eyes are crinkling, a giveaway for true happiness," Moore said. "Melania's posture is relaxed, and she is leaning into Donald slightly here, indicating that she's relaxed and comfortable in the presence of Donald and Ivanka."

However, Moore also pointed out, "What's interesting is that at this point, even on their engagement night, Donald's body language indicates he's emotionally closer to Ivanka than to Melania." Fortunately, the future first lady didn't seem bothered by it. Either that, or she was too distracted by their engagement to give it too much thought. 

After the wedding, Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump's dynamic shifted

Ivanka Trump joined Donald Trump and his third wife, Melania Trump, at the Olympus Fashion Week in Bryant Park in 2006. Melania and Donald married in January 2005, so they were still in their honeymoon period at Fashion Week. What's more, Melania was officially one of the Trumps, cementing her place within the family.

Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor Nicole Moore told Women Lifestyle that in this picture, it's clear Melania, Donald, and Ivanka's overall dynamic had evolved. "Donald and Melania clearly stand together in unison as a pair in this picture, while Ivanka is behind them, standing as her own separate entity," Moore said, before noting how Melania's body language had changed. "Melania's shoulders are pulled back, with her chest high and exposed, indicating confidence, and she's standing closer to Donald in this picture, indicating more connection with him," Moore told us. 

Melania presumably felt more confident about her place in Donald's world at this point, which in turn warmed her towards Ivanka, and lessened Ivanka's possibility as a threat. Even in her posture, Melania exuded confidence and security.

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump got closer at a 2007 fundraiser

For the first few years of Melania Trump's relationship with Donald Trump, she and Ivanka Trump were rarely photographed without Donald. At the New York City-based event in 2007, Raising Malawi and UNICEF, hosted by Madonna and Gucci, Melania and Ivanka sat together without Donald present. Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, explained to Women Lifestyle why this was so significant.

"In this picture, Melania and Ivanka's arms and shoulders are touching as they sit next to each other, indicating closeness, and their bodies appear relaxed, indicating comfort with each other," Moore told us, before noting that it's not all warm and fuzzy for Melania. "However, Ivanka is leaning her head toward Melania and pointing her face slightly toward her, while Melania's shoulder and head are actually tilted away from Ivanka," she added.

As Moore pointed out, Melania's apparent reluctance to be super casual and chummy with her stepdaughter at an event suggests a desire to maintain her independence. But for Ivanka, the attitude is different. "It appears as if at this point in time, Ivanka has fully welcomed Melania in as her stepmother; however, Melania is still holding back slightly," Moore explained. While Ivanka's body language indicated she was on good terms with Melania, Melania clearly needed more time to connect with her husband's eldest daughter. 

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump looked relaxed at a 2008 event

On June 23, 2008, Donald Trump, wife Melania Trump, and daughter Ivanka Trump attended a party in New York to introduce The Trump International Hotel & Tower Dubai. Historically, Donald would stand between Ivanka and Melania at public engagements, but at this event, Donald stood to the side while Ivanka and Melania talked together. Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, told Women Lifestyle how this marked a big moment in Melania's attitude towards Ivanka. 

As Moore told us, Melania's body language suggested total warmth and openness towards Ivanka. "Melania's shoulders and jaw are relaxed, and her trademark stiff posture is gone here, indicating she's extremely relaxed in Ivanka's company," Moore went on. "Ivanka is leaning her body in toward Melania and looking at her eyes as she talks to Melania, indicating closeness and a desire to share her thoughts with Melania. Although Melania isn't looking Ivanka in the eye here, her face and chin are pointed toward Ivanka, and she's listening intently to what Ivanka has to say." 

Moore also observed that their relationship is at one of its high points, with both women eager to connect. They both express comfortable body language, and are very warm with each other. In fact, they're behaving like friends. At this point in their relationship, any rivalry seemed to evaporate, and Melania and Ivanka could enjoy each other's friendship. 

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump seemed icy in Iowa

With the support of his family, Donald Trump announced his bid for the presidency in 2015, and immediately, he and his family hit the campaign trail. In Iowa, we can see in a video how Ivanka Trump took the podium on her father's behalf, while Melania Trump stood to the side. We asked Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, to explain to Women Lifestyle how Donald's political career created a shift in Melania's feelings towards Ivanka. 

Moore explained that the clip from Iowa indicated the beginning of an icy patch for Melania and Ivanka; Donald's presidency announcement didn't do wonders for Melania and Ivanka's relationship. "As Melania is between Donald and Ivanka, her arms are tense and tight by her waist, and when she turns her head in Ivanka's direction, her mouth is tight, and she never looks directly in her eyes." Moore noted that it's almost as if Melania didn't want to acknowledge Ivanka. "When Melania has to move over to let Ivanka speak at the podium, her face becomes displeased with tight lips, and she sucks in air as Ivanka starts speaking, indicating she does not want to hear what Ivanka has to say," Moore added. Melania did smile occasionally, Moore observed, but said that the smiles did not seem genuine.

There looked to be awkwardness at the presidential debates

At the third presidential debate in Las Vegas in 2016, Donald Trump's family gathered around him in support. In a video clip of the family arriving at the debate, Melania Trump walked ahead of Ivanka Trump; however, it was clear that Ivanka was a key figure in her father's campaign. Women Lifestyle spoke to Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, about the potential tension between Melania and Ivanka as the latter assumed a primary role in the family's politics. 

"Melania's body language in this clip may be subtly giving away her unhappiness at taking a back seat to Ivanka during the campaign trail," Moore told Women Lifestyle. "As Melania walks into the event to meet with Donald, she shows no signs of warmth toward him and keeps her body stiff. It appears as if their hands move close as if to hold hands; however, Melania subtly moves her hand away as if to assert her independence and let Donald know that she's displeased." 

Moore also noted that Ivanka's body language could not be more different from her stepmother's. As she explained, "Ivanka, in contrast, walks confidently into the event with long, steady strides, her shoulders pulled back and her head upright." Moore observed that Ivanka looked to be happy to be in the spotlight at the helm of Donald's campaign, whereas Melania didn't seem comfortable with that. 

The 2016 election impacted Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump's dynamic

In November 2016, Donald Trump was elected president. The Trump family waited all night to hear the news, and came together to celebrate in the wee hours of the morning. In a clip from the celebration, Melania Trump looked apprehensive, preoccupied, and disconnected from Ivanka Trump, who stood right next to her. Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, told Women Lifestyle how Melania and Ivanka's body language indicated how they really felt about Donald's win, and how these feelings might've put them at odds with each other. 

"Melania and Ivanka did appear to react to the news of Donald Trump's presidential victory differently," Moore asserted, noting that Ivanka displayed genuine happiness that night, even though she was presumably exhausted and no doubt shocked by the news. "She's walking very fast, almost bumping into Melania in front of her, who is walking more apprehensively onto the stage. Ivanka's body language here displays that she is so ready for her father to be president, and she's charging into the role of president's daughter wholeheartedly." Moore noted that Melania, on the other hand, was still very much processing this development. "She's smiling but her body language is displaying that she's not quite fully in yet," Moore said. For Melania, it would take some time before Donald's win — and Ivanka's subsequent involvement — would sink in. 

They kept it 'cordial' at Donald Trump's inauguration

On the day of Donald Trump's inauguration, Melania Trump stood at his right hand side, while Ivanka Trump stood on his left. The two women carried a nearly equal presence that day. In a video clip of the day, the two women appear to be smiling and excited. Women Lifestyle spoke with Nicole Moore, Body Language Expert & Celebrity Love Advisor, about Melania's feelings towards Ivanka at this big event, and the feelings are positive. 

"In this clip at the Inauguration, Melania appears to be much more relaxed in Ivanka's presence, and her smile is genuine," Moore told us. Even though Melania didn't make direct eye contact with Ivanka, she seemed perfectly at ease with her stepdaughter. "It's possible that the bulk of Melania's tension and displeasure during the campaign trail was not related to Ivanka but to the prospect of her husband becoming president in general," Moore explained, adding that by the inauguration, Melania had finally accepted her husband's political future. 

Moore also noted that Melania's overall body language is much more calm when she's near her son, Barron Trump, so this could have contributed to Melania's expressive joy that day. "Melania and Ivanka appear cordial in this clip, but not close, so it's possible that by the Inauguration any tensions between the two of them eased and they came to a point of acceptance and mutual support for the family and Donald's presidency," Moore added, noting why Melania seemed warmer towards Ivanka. 

Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump juggled their White House roles

There was a lot of talk in the media about Melania Trump's supposedly distant behavior in the White House. Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump took on a position as senior advisor to her father. This led to whispers that Ivanka secretly wanted to take over Melania's first lady duties. While this didn't exactly happen, the two women shared various roles in the White House, creating an interesting power dynamic between them. In 2017, they celebrated Women's Day at the White House, and in a clip, Melania entered the room last, assuming the role of leadership over Ivanka. 

Women Lifestyle spoke with Greg Hartley, Body Language and Behavior Expert, about Melania's interaction with Ivanka here. "When Melania enters, Ivanka does a slight downright head nod," he explained. "The nod is something most of us do when we see someone we know or are closely connected to." Melania warmly recognizes Ivanka here, Hartley observed, adding, "Melania holds eye contact until she passes and then does a reach to the chair of the lady next to Ivanka, that is usually recognition."

Hartley assessed that Melania and Ivanka's body language was that of two people on a team together, united by a common mission. There was no evidence of tension in Melania towards Ivanka. 

The deeper into Donald Trump's presidency, the harder things got

On August 20, 2020, Ivanka Trump introduced Donald Trump before he gave his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president. They spoke on the South Lawn of the White House in front of a huge audience. While Melania Trump was present, she was not as involved in the event. In a clip from the event, Melania's facial expression read as uncomfortable, while Ivanka's was elated. Women Lifestyle spoke with Greg Hartley, Body Language and Behavior Expert, about Melania's body language toward Ivanka here. 

While the interaction looks awkward, Hartley observed warmth between Melania and Ivanka. "The smile Melania shows Ivanka is actually prolonged compared to the smile she tries to hold after," Hartley told Women Lifestyle. "The smile Melania gave involved the lower lids rising and is more genuine compared to the smile for the audience." Hartley noted that before Ivanka arrived, Melania was gripping her forefinger and thumb as a way of releasing nervous energy. Melania's respiration was also up, and Hartley explained that something seemingly engaged her limbic system before Ivanka arrived. 

According to Hartley, Melania's nervous energy wasn't brought on by Ivanka's presence. Rather, Ivanka might've been a comforting, familiar presence at the event.

The family's demeanor at the funeral of Ivana Trump

Following Donald Trump's stint in the White House, the Trump family's dynamic shifted once again. Ivanka Trump has largely separated herself from Donald and his future political aspirations. As such, she's separated herself from Melania Trump as well. However, they did come together for the funeral of Ivana Trump, Ivanka Trump's mother, who died on July 14, 2022. In a clip from the funeral, Melania stood with Barron Trump and her husband, alongside Ivanka and her children. Ivanka delivered her mother's eulogy.

Women Lifestyle spoke with Body Language and Behavior Expert Greg Hartley about Melania's interactions with Ivanka at the funeral. Noting some general discomfort, Hartley told us, "Funerals are awkward at best and put people into a model of unfamiliarity." Based on Melania's shallow respiration, Hartley did notice some stress in her body language. "Something is causing her distress there, and it doesn't appear to be Ivanka," Hartley said. So Melania's discomfort was likely caused by something else entirely, and it could very well have been Donald's renewed political interests. Hartley did hypothesize that some of Melania's distress could be concern for Ivanka and Donald's other children, who just lost their mother.