As the election results start to settle in, attention has increasingly turned towads the future First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump. Married to Donald Trump for twelve years, Melania remained elusive over the majority of the Presidential campaign. But with recent announcements that she would not be moving to Washington with her husband, everybody has begun to speculate about how she will act as First Lady, and what kind of influence she will have.
Who is Melania Trump?
Melania was born in Slovenia in 1970, and moved to the United States in 1996. At this time Slovenia was a Socialist Republic, with Melania coming from humble beginnings. Her father was a car and motorcycle dealership manager committed to the beliefs of Marxism-Leninism. Five years after moving to the USA, Melania became a US citizen, meaning that she will be the second ever First Lady to be of foreign birth. This is quite remarkable, especially given Donald Trump’s strong anti-immigration beliefs. The couple have one child together, Barron, born in 2006, who Melania has stated is her top priority at the moment.
Mrs Trump rose to fame as a model, starting her career at only 16 years old. She signed with an Italian agency when she was 18 and later attended University for only one year. Once she relocated to New York City in 1996, her career took off as she began appearing on various magazine covers. In 1998 she met Donald Trump at a Fashion Week event, however, at this she was still married to her first husband – although they were separated. The future President and First Lady did not take long to get into a relationship, and she campaigned alongside Mr Trump as he ran to be the Reform Party’s Presidential Nominee in 2000. They later married in 2004. Interestingly, Bill and Hillary Clinton were attendees at the star-studded event.
What can we expect?
Melania Trump played a much smaller role in the Presidential campaign than most spouses traditionally do. Indeed, the only part she really played was in fact one of the many controversial moments of the campaigns. Instead of taking to the stage with an inspirational and positive speech, Melania delivered one strikingly similar to a speech given by Michelle Obama. Not only is it surprising that this made it past Trump’s team, but also that a future first lady would be incapable of writing an original speech. Michelle Obama’s captivating and inspiring speeches arguably were crucial in allowing her to establish an image of herself and make solid changes over the course of her time in the White House. If Melania cannot follow this example, it is hard to believe that she will be very involved in politics. Mrs Trump’s limited experience is therefore clear, which does not bode well for her time as First Lady.
The role of First Lady provides a platform through which social change can occur
Arguably, this bodes ill for how she will perform as a First Lady, and suggests she may take a very small role. Melania has recently revealed that she will not be moving immediately to the White House with her husband, instead staying in Trump Towers so as not to pull Barron out of school mid-way through the year. First Lady is an unofficial title involving being the host of the White House and adviser to the President. In the last century, First Ladies have taken on increasing responsibilities within the country. These have often been to do with social progress, and activism. With Melania not living in Washington, it begs the question of how she will follow the legacy left by Michelle Obama and other past first ladies, and work to make positive change in the country. For example, Mrs Obama took on childhood obesity and education for girls as key focal points, helping to steer the Obama administration in a positive direction for these causes.
It is therefore very unclear how Mrs Trump will act in her new position, and if she will make use of the influence that comes with it. Personally, it appears as though she will make a very limited impact, which seems a great shame considering the incredible women she is following in the footsteps of. The role of First Lady provides a platform through which social change can occur. With another male President, young women may also be short of a strong role model in the leadership of their country. If America lacks a strong and capable figure in this role, this may highlight another difference in the Trump regime.