Many of us have been in awkward networking situations, but few have elevated our fumbling attempts to a world stage, like Ivanka Trump did this past weekend. In a video posted by the French presidential palace, the American first daughter and presidential advisor does her best to make conversation with world leaders at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.
The internet couldn't help but notice that Ivanka looked out of place in this circle of heavyweights. As a result, the meme #UnwantedIvanka was born, which shows Ivanka photoshopped "butting into" every imaginable famous scenario, from the signing of the Declaration of Independence to the characters in Mean Girls walking into school on a Wednesday, wearing pink. ("She doesn't even go here!")
Ivanka's intent may have been to raise her profile by appearing next to world leaders — she has not-so-subtly indicated that she wants to be president one day — but her body language actually betrayed the fact that she was out of her depth in the conversation, body language expert Patti Wood, author of Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma, told Refinery29. With no previous government experience, the president's advisor on women's economic empowerment "didn't have the power level or the experience of those in that circle of people," she said. Her optics game may work when she herself has control over posting the photo or video, but it backfired in this candid, caught-off-guard moment.
It's unclear what the conversation into which she entered was actually about, but the body language was undeniably awkward, Wood said. "She stood slightly outside the circle, in a way that shows she felt unwelcomed," she said. "Also, the group didn't turn toward her to allow her in fully."
A few hints that Ivanka may have felt uncomfortable: She stood with her arms down and behind her, she withdrew her head after talking, and her mouth became tight and turned downward, said Wood. Her body language even suggests that she might have been unhappy with what she said to the group. "Her twirling hands showed she felt she was spinning her wheels and not making traction," Wood said. "She also picked the tips of her fingers in what is called 'self-beating,' as if punishing herself for not doing well. It's clear she wanted to look good, and tried to say something. Considering the power level of the other members of the group, that was very brave. But she also felt she didn’t do well and she feels bad about it."