Being married to one of the most controversial American presidents, Melania Trump has been scrutinized by the media since her husband’s inauguration in 2016. Seeing as Donald Trump has taken a different approach to the presidency (and that’s putting it nicely), it’s only expected of Mrs. Trump to give the title of First Lady a whole new meaning.
Here are five ways Melania seems to be a different type of First Lady.
1. She didn’t want her husband to become POTUS in the first place.
Unlike previous first ladies who supported their spouses as they worked to reach the White House, the former fashion model merely wanted Trump to run for president, only to fall short of the oval office. Although she believes her husband is fit to be POTUS, many sources claim that Melania Trump wasn’t fond of his presidential campaign. According to an article in “Rolling Stone” magazine, Mrs. Trump stated: “‘It’s not my thing. It’s Donald’s thing.’”
In contrast to first ladies of the past, FLOTUS Trump doesn’t seek to utilize the power of her First Lady title for a specific cause. In fact, she lacks a political agenda completely, which makes her simply somewhat of a First Lady figurehead, and her disinterest in American government deserves a subheading of its own.
2. She keeps a low profile.
According to an article in The Washington Post entitled “Melania Trump shouldn’t have had to be first lady at all,” FLOTUS Trump disappeared for 24 days this past May. While the former fashion model may not relish the political spotlight, it’s uncommon for such a high-profile woman to completely vanish from the public eye. More often than not, first ladies are captured alongside their husbands, giving the impression that their first and most significant role is that of wife and supporter.
By avoiding political media coverage and openly resenting her husband’s presidential campaign, Mrs. Trump has successfully broken the First Lady prototype. Melania Trump’s resistance toward first-ladyhood begs the following question for future presidential spouses: should first ladies (or first gentlemen) be able to forgo political association?
I mean, if FLOTUS Trump had hoped to avoid the White House, why should her husband’s presidential endeavors affect her in any way? Unlike First Ladies of the past, Mrs. Trump doesn’t seek political change and completely dissociates herself from Trump’s presidential decisions. Quite frankly, I really don’t blame her — President Trump seems to be one tweet away from starting World War III.
3. She lacks an interest in politics.
Melania Trump wasn’t involved in politics prior to husband’s presidential campaign. As stated before, she was a fashion model, and many of her photo shoots returned to haunt Trump during his campaign. When asked about his wife’s more “racy” photoshoots, President Trump responded with: “This was a picture taken for a European magazine prior to my knowing Melania. In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and common.”
Again, why should Mrs. Trump’s non-political endeavors affect her husband’s presidential campaign? If she chose to model in her late teens and early 20s, why did her photoshoots become relevant decades later? FLOTUS Trump’s activities and interests, both past and current, aren’t required to have a political agenda and shouldn’t interfere with America’s perception of her — especially since she wanted to avoid first ladyhood altogether.
Melania Trump’s disinterest in politics sets her apart from first ladies of the past, though her hobbies and general interests aren’t foreign to the White House. In fact, Mrs. Trump claimed that she would be a “traditional first lady” during her husband’s presidential campaign, “Like Betty Ford or Jackie Kennedy.”
In line with her claims, Melania Trump’s sense of style and general interest in fashion resemble Jackie O’s taste in designer brands, though people tend to criticize her lavish lifestyle. Due to her husband’s success in business, FLOTUS Trump has never struggled financially, which doesn’t sit well with many Americans.
That being said, Jackie O never struggled either — she was born into wealth, married President John F. Kennedy and wed multi-millionaire Aristotle Onassis after JFK’s death in 1963. Even after she remarried, First Lady Kennedy remained an American icon, never straying from her beloved, classic persona, that was, and continues to be, adored by United States citizens. America’s adoration for Jackie O stems from her womanly tradition and ambition — two traits which our current first lady lacks.
4. She doesn’t have a philanthropy.
“Lady Bird” Johnson established the highway beautification project, the Bush women were passionate about children’s literacy and Michelle Obama combated childhood obesity — what does Melania bring to the table? Well, according to an article in “Vogue” entitled “After Nearly a Year as First Lady, Melania Trump Charts an Uncertain Course,” Mrs. Trump has yet to delegate her “cause” as First Lady.
While she’s involved with charities such as the American Cross, Love Our Children USA and the Police Athletic League, FLOTUS Trump hasn’t applied her “philanthropic” traits to the White House. In more recent years, Melania has supported charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and Paralyzed Veterans of America. However, her charitable efforts aren’t visibly evident, in contrast to Michelle Obama’s change in public school lunches or Lady Bird Johnson’s beautification of America’s highways.
5. She was born and raised in a communist country.
While First Lady Louisa Adams was born in a foreign country (Britain), Melania Trump is the first FLOTUS to be born and raised in a communist country. It’s no secret that the United States and communism have a troublesome history, and Mrs. Trump was born in the midst of The Cold War, when communist fears ran rampant in the U.S. Even so, President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin seem to get along swimmingly, much to America’s dismay.
That being said, FLOTUS Trump was born in Slovenia, not the former USSR, which definitely helps her case, though communism (still) has many negative connotations in the United States. Returning to Jackie Kennedy, the Russian-American arms race was at its peak during her time in office, with “Red Scare” threats and nuclear warfare being prominent American fears. While Melania Trump and Jackie O share similar interests and hobbies, their spouses and origins oppose one another, which calls FLOTUS Trump’s traditionalism into question.