Italian President Giorgia Meloni has gone viral after being snapped at COP28 in Dubai taking a selfie with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi.
But it was her phone case that stole the show as leaders met to discuss climate policy, branded with an assortment of ‘affirmations for anxiety’.
Attentive netizens soon identified the case as a popular protector with messages inscribed aimed at helping ‘strengthen self-worth by boosting your positive opinion of yourself and your confidence in your ability to achieve your goals’.
Phrases included ‘I’ve got my back’ and ‘my anxiety doesn’t define me’. Others said ‘I give myself permission to take a break’ and ‘I am enough’.
A spokesperson for Meloni, the leader of Italy’s right-wing populist party Fratelli d’Italia, has since explained the cover was attached to her phone by her seven-year-old daughter, Ginerva.
In October, Meloni separated from Ginerva’s father, Andrea Giambruno, after he was caught on tape boasting of an affair and asking for a threesome.
Giorgia Meloni was pictured taking a selfie with Italian Prime Minister Narenda Modi at COP28
The case contains a number of ‘positive affirmations’ for anxiety sufferers
The selfie was shared on Instagram with the hashtag #Melodi, garnering 1.33mn likes
Giorgia Meloni was pictured standing next to the Indian PM over the weekend while attending the UN’s annual climate change conference in the UAE.
The photo she snapped gained a whopping 1.33mn likes on Instagram as a picture of her taking it went viral among Italian accounts.
‘Looks like she has seen all the memes, I’m pretty sure they’re trolling us,’ user textivist commented under the picture.
A tweet by @CrazyItalianPol, a popular account on X, was seen 4.2million times as users shared their views.
The furore even inspired Italian daily newspaper La Stampa to publish an editorial titled ‘Tell me what ‘cover’ you have and I’ll tell you who you are: on Meloni’s smartphone a manifesto against anxiety’.
The author wrote, translated from Italian: ‘It is clear that for a political figure the choice of cell phone shell goes beyond its practical and aesthetic function.
‘It is a message shouted at the top of one’s lungs, and its strength is proportional to the power of the character who displays it on this cover.’
The journalist also singled out fellow Fratelli d’Italia politician Ignazio La Russa, current President of the Senate of Italy, who was pictured in 2018 sporting a plain black phone case with the words ‘100% MILF’ emblazoned across it.
Asked why he has the case, La Russa once told Italian media his wife got it from their son as a gift. She refused to use it, so he did.
‘I took it because it says ‘100% MILF. It seemed funny to me,’ he said in an interview in 2018.
Users in Italian social media spaces also recalled politician Marta Fascina’s interesting choice of phone case.
The glamorous Forza Italia politician was seen glugging wine while holding her phone to her ear at a pizzeria in Naples in 2022. On the back of her phone: a picture of a younger Silvio Berlusconi, her husband, who was sat next to her over dinner at the time.
Matteo Salvini, the current deputy prime minister of Italy, was also once seen with an unusual campaign phone case branded ‘I am with Salvini’, three years before assuming office, X user CatiaMamone noted.
Fratelli d’Italia politician Ignazio La Russa with his ‘funny’ 100% MILF phone case in 2018
Marta Fascina sports a phone case featuring a younger Silvio Berlusconi, her husband
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (C-L) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi share a laugh during day one COP28 at Expo City Dubai on December 1, 2023
#Melodi appeared to be getting on well as they laughed ahead of a photo-op at COP28 Friday
Positive affirmations are ‘positively loaded statements phrases, or statements that are used to challenge unhelpful or negative thoughts’, a ‘scientifically reviewed’ article in Positive Psychology reported in 2019.
The explainer there is some evidence repeating positive phrases can have an uplifting effect on mental health.
‘Very briefly, self-integrity relates to our global self-efficacy—our perceived ability to control moral outcomes and respond flexibly when our self-concept is threatened. So, we as humans are motivated to protect ourselves from these threats by maintaining out self-integrity,’ the author noted.
Having a ‘flexible, moral’ self-identity, built up by self-affirmation, ‘means we can view different aspects of ourselves as being positive and can adapt to different situations much better’.
And some 2016 research suggests that neural pathways are built up when people practice self-affirmation tasks.
Choosing to practice positive affirmations can make us better able to see ‘otherwise-threatening information as more self-relevant and valuable’, another study concluded.
Meloni implemented permanent subsidies for mental health during the Covid pandemic, but sufferers receive less support than in other European countries.
Just three per cent of the Italian health budget is dedicated to mental health services – compared to around 10 per cent in other high income countries on the continent.
The Italian PM is among thousands of attendants at the UN’s flagship climate change event in Dubai this year.
Some 400,000 people are expected to travel to Dubai between November 30 and December 12 for the UN’s annual Climate Change Conference.
This includes 97,000 registered as official delegates with access to the security-protected inner ‘Blue Zone’ for accredited government figures and companies.
The conference, intended for governments to agree on policies to limit and manage environmental impact, has grown significantly since its inception in the mid-1990s, when around 5,000 attended each year.
The decision to host COP this year in oil-rich Dubai has been met with some skepticism.
And the controversial head of the summit was slammed by climate leaders for saying there was ‘no science’ to back claims phasing out fossil fuels would help limit global warming to 1.5C.
He has said since his comments had been misrepresented.
‘Everything this presidency has been working on, continues to work on, is focused on and centred around the science,’ he told a press conference.