As preparation for the vice-presidential debate on October 7, Elle Magazine recently revealed that Senator Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate, will be featured on the cover of the November issue. It’s a glowing story. However, First Lady Melania Trump, arguably the most fashionable First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy, has not received any such attention from any fashion magazine.
The cover of Senator Harris’ issue features the freshman Senator sitting in front of the reflection pool by the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Memorial in the background. It’s a striking image, and one meant to invoke a sense of statesmanship.
As the first black and Indian woman running as a vice presidential candidate, Senator Harris is making history.
The author of the article, Ashley Ford, wrote, “With political corruption and police brutality top of mind today, it can be hard to believe there’s a powerful defender ready to battle for all of this country’s people at once. None of us can tell the future, so we look for clues, and try to pose the right questions. I ask what justice means to a prosecutor who wants to defend our civil rights.
“The senator says, smiling, ‘It’s about freedom, it’s about equality, it’s about dignity. When you achieve equality, and freedom, and fairness, it’s not because I grant it to you. It’s because you fought for it because it is your right. This is not about benevolence or charity; it is about every human being’s God-given right. What do we collectively do to fight for that? That’s what justice represents to me—it’s about empowerment of the people.’
It’s a shame that the same sense of historical potency was not extended to Melania Trump.
As an immigrant, Trump is only the second First Lady in history not born in the United States. The first, Louisa Catherine Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London in 1775. Louisa’s father moved to France, as he was apparently a proud American patriot who could no longer live in the U.K., and it was there that he became friends with John Adams and a then 4-year-old John Quincy Adams.
Trump was also born in a former Soviet country, another first for the United States, and thus English is not her first language. It makes her a decisively unique resident of the East Wing and the White House.
The Trump family is also the first to have a son living in the White House since John F. Kennedy Jr. in the 1960s.
Barron Trump, who is currently 14 years old, made history when he moved into the White House with his parents. While other presidents have also had sons, all were adults and living outside the White House. He also, like his mother, speaks Slovene.
But Melania making history, apparently, doesn’t extend to magazine covers. In her time as First Lady, despite being a former model and appearing on the cover of Vogue before her 2005 wedding to Donald Trump, there have been no invitations to appear in any fashion magazine.
During the Obama administration, Michelle Obama featured on 12 magazine covers, and she also appeared in Elle Magazine in 2018 after leaving the White House. Every First Lady has also been photographed for Vogue, with the exception of Bess Truman, but Melania hasn’t been featured.
Instead of politics, women’s magazines should focus on featuring historic, influential and dynamic women from all sides of the political divide, not just the left. Perhaps that will help alleviate the steep readership decline that many magazines are facing.
Photo from JONATHAN DRAKE/REUTERS
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