President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, sits inside a cabin of a firetruck during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, Monday, July 17, 2017, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, sits inside a cabin of a firetruck during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, Monday, July 17, 2017, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.  Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

Donald Trump's Photo Ops Have a Certain Boyish Glee

U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the cab of a truck as he welcomes members of American Trucking Associations to the White House March 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The Big Rig

President Trump has done the standard White House picture opportunities: the bill signing, the handshake with a foreign leader, the remarks in the Rose Garden. But in his first six months in office, he's also shown a decidedly boyish enthusiasm for photo ops involving things like trucks. Most notably, he climbed into the cab of a big rig in March during a visit by a trucking group.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, sits inside a cabin of a firetruck during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, Monday, July 17, 2017, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, sits inside a cabin of a firetruck during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, Monday, July 17, 2017, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

The Fire Truck

The truck photo was criticized, since it was taken even as the Republican health care bill was failing in the House. Online, Trump critics turned it into a meme. But that didn't seem to bother Trump, who went ahead in July and climbed into a fire truck for a very similar photo op even as the health care bill was faltering in the Senate. “Where's the fire?" he joked. "I'll put it out fast.”

Donald Trump wearing a gold hard hat given to him by construction workers at the Trump Palace.
Donald Trump wearing a gold hard hat given to him by construction workers at the Trump Palace. New York Daily News Archive—NY Daily News via Getty Images

The Hard Hat

In a way, these photo ops are a natural outgrowth of Trump's old career as a real estate developer, a job where people in dressy clothes often put on hard hats and walk around heavy equipment to show off to reporters the site of a new casino or apartment building. That's something Trump has done for decades.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia.
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. Mark Lyons—Getty Images

The Coal Miners

They're also an extension of his policies. During the campaign, Trump talked a lot about bringing back blue-collar manufacturing jobs and helping struggling industries like coal mining. His rhetoric often focused on specific concrete things that can be built, such as a border wall or improvements to roads and airports.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stop to looks at a Caterpillar truck, manufactured in Illinois, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017, during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence stop to looks at a Caterpillar truck, manufactured in Illinois, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017, during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

The Caterpillar

In office, that's naturally led to a lot of events with heavy equipment, such as this front-end loader that he inspected during a "Made in America" themed event.

US President Donald Trump salutes as he walks to Air Force One prior to departing from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, March 2, 2017, as he traveled to Newport News, Virginia, to visit the pre-commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.
US President Donald Trump salutes as he walks to Air Force One prior to departing from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, March 2, 2017, as he traveled to Newport News, Virginia, to visit the pre-commissioned USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

The Aircraft Carrier

He's also called for strengthening the military, which naturally leads to photo ops involving big pieces of military equipment, such as an aircraft carrier.

US President Donald Trump jokes with reporters after greeting Harley Davidson executives and union representatives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2017 prior to a luncheon with them.
US President Donald Trump jokes with reporters after greeting Harley Davidson executives and union representatives on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 2, 2017 prior to a luncheon with them. NICHOLAS KAMM—AFP/Getty Images

The Harley-Davidson

But there's something else at work in these photo ops. Big rigs, fire trucks, construction equipment and motorcycles—these are all things that tend to be associated with a youthful sort of masculinity.

President George W. Bush, wearing a flightsuit after arriving on the flightdeck in an S3–Viking aircraft, shouts out greetings to Navy sailors who work the flightdeck crews as they greeted him with cheers today (5/01/03).
President George W. Bush, wearing a flightsuit after arriving on the flightdeck in an S3–Viking aircraft, shouts out greetings to Navy sailors who work the flightdeck crews as they greeted him with cheers today (5/01/03). Don Torrey—LA Times via Getty Images

The Flight Suit

To be fair, Trump is not the first president to pose with a big piece of equipment or craft a macho-seeming photo op.

President Barack Obama uses a light saber as he watches a demonstration of fencing at an event supporting Chicago's 2016 host city Olympic bid, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama uses a light saber as he watches a demonstration of fencing at an event supporting Chicago's 2016 host city Olympic bid, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.Charles Dharapak—ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Light Saber

Nor is he the first to exhibit a boyish glee at an official White House event.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama host an event to harvest the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House October 6, 2016 in Washington, DC.
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama host an event to harvest the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House October 6, 2016 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—2016 Getty Images

The Garden

In the past, though, these have often been balanced out by other photo ops involving activities that aren't viewed as traditionally masculine, something that has rarely happened so far with Trump.

US President Donald Trump examines US-made products from all 50 states, including a Marucci baseball bat, in the Blue Room of the White House during a "Made in America" product showcase event in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017.
US President Donald Trump examines US-made products from all 50 states, including a Marucci baseball bat, in the Blue Room of the White House during a "Made in America" product showcase event in Washington, DC, on July 17, 2017. OLIVER DOULIERY—AFP/Getty Images

The Baseball Bat

Indeed, the cumulative effect of these photo ops has been to highlight the gender of the president, who won the 2016 election in large part due to strong support from male voters in the widest gender gap in recorded election history.

U.S. President Donald Trump wears a Stetson cowboy hat given to him by Dustin Noblitt (L) while touring a Made in America product showcase in the East Room of the White House July 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.
U.S. President Donald Trump wears a Stetson cowboy hat given to him by Dustin Noblitt (L) while touring a Made in America product showcase in the East Room of the White House July 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

The Cowboy Hat

And if it also risks making him seem a little too boyish, that's not entirely a negative either, considering he is the oldest person ever elected president in the United States.

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