Donald Trump may lean to the right politically, but when he’s talking to someone he leans solidly forward — literally.
A set of viral photos circulating across social media show the president’s unusual habit of leaning his body very far forward when speaking to someone, whether it be a fellow world leader or a group of reporters on the White House lawn. One Twitter user compiled a series of pictures showing Trump leaning almost out of his shoes as he spoke into microphones and adopting a similar stance when greeting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
While the viral photos are gaining attention this week, it’s not the first time that attention has been paid to the president’s unusual posture. Back in the first few months of Trump’s presidency, The New York Times devoted an op-ed to his body language and the possible meaning behind it.
The piece from Frank Bruni noted Trump’s attempts to assert dominance, including his not-so-gentle shove to Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic when the world leaders were standing around to take a photograph and Trump wanted to be in the front. Bruni called the move “pitiable,” noting that Trump appeared to be overly sensitive to perceived slights and responded with some obvious body language.
“With Trump, struts, scowls and pouts reveal every bit as much as what tumbles from his lips, which is a lot less trustworthy. His words can be counterfeit,” Bruni noted in the op-ed. “His gestures are genuine. So it only makes sense that we lean on them for the narrative of his post-truth presidency, whose latest, foreign chapter brimmed with more awkward physicality than a toddlers’ gymnastics class.”
why does this weirdo stand like this pic.twitter.com/m69kHmteEC
— waterslide enthusiast (@KrangTNelson) April 26, 2019
It’s not clear what the leaning forward gesture could mean, but others have noted that his tendency to lean in could be a sign of vulnerability. Body language expert Lillian Glass told The Hollywood Reporter that the president’s “forward-leaning posture” seemed to reveal a more sensitive and vulnerable sign from Trump. Glass was analyzing Trump’s interview with Megyn Kelly, which was filled with tense moments as the two had clashed in the past.
The latest viral photos of Donald Trump’s stance also prompted some armchair body language analysis on Twitter, including many who saw it as an attempt to menace the people he is speaking to, asserting his dominance over them. Of course, there are also plenty of pictures of Trump adopting a more normal stance when speaking at campaign rallies or talking to people, but those didn’t generate much interest among the Trump-criticizing corners of social media.