All The First Lady Traditions Melania Trump Is Breaking
A sizable portion of the Trump presidency differs greatly from anything the American public has seen before, and First Lady Melania Trump undoubtedly brings a completely new energy to her role in the White House. As First Lady, she not only handles her responsibilities differently, she often breaks with tradition. When you consider how Melania Trump differs from past First Ladies, the contrasts add up in a major way. She isn’t just doing the job differently, she completely redefines the role. Her unorthodox approach even led to a number of Melania conspiracy theories, only adding to the media circus that is the Trump administration so far.
Whether changing her plans with world dignitaries at the last minute or wearing high heels to the scene of a natural disaster, Melania Trump goes about her duties as the First Lady in her own fashion (for the low, low price of $39). As the second First Lady to be born outside the US, Melania Trump may just feel out of touch with American values, or maybe she resents having to be a First Lady rather than just Donald Trump's wife. Regardless, Melania Trump as First Lady continues to be unlike anything the public has ever seen in the White House, for better or worse.
She Doesn't Make Diplomatic Fashion Choices
First lady Melania Trump wears jacket emblazoned with "I DON'T CARE. DO U?" ahead of trip to Texas detention center where migrant children are housed https://t.co/WIErn0tapf pic.twitter.com/5v8nY4VDkc— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 21, 2018
The First Lady throws the media into tizzies with her fashion choices all the time, specifically with her giant white hat. However, on June 21, 2018, she drew an even more vicious reaction with a jacket she wore during her visit to a center where children who'd been separated from their families at the Mexican border were being detained. The back of the jacket read, "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"
This lead pundits to try to discern whether or not she was trying to make a statement or if it was just a tasteless choice. While even President Trump himself jumped into the fray to defend his wife, critics pointed out Melania's unusual choice of a $39, two-seasons-ago Zara jacket was undoubtedly a specifically sartorial decision.
Or take her 2017 visit to Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, where she wore a particularly glamorous outfit to the disaster zone. Critics noted that wearing stiletto heels to a flood zone felt like a rather insensitive choice, especially considering the First Lady was thought to be in Texas to help.
Juxtapose that jacket with the simple outfit that Michelle Obama wore to the Berlin Holocaust museum in 2013. President Trump claimed the jacket was a message to the "Fake News Media," but a spokesperson for Melania claimed there was "no message."
She Rode To The State Of The Union Without The PresidentPhoto: The White House / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Traditionally, the First Lady rides to the State of the Union with the President, but in 2018 Melania rode with her own posse. Instead of arriving with Trump, the First Lady brought along a car full of guests who sat with her during the speech. CNN noted Melania arrived about one minute before the speech began and received a roaring standing ovation.
When asked why she bucked tradition, a spokesperson for the First Lady explained she was "honoring her guests for the true heroes they are," and the ride was in addition to a "White House reception and photo opportunity."
She Took Her Time Moving Into The White House
Looking forward to the memories we'll make in our new home! #Movingday pic.twitter.com/R5DtdV1Hnv— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) June 12, 2017
An expectation among the American people is that the First Lady will join the President in the White House to prove they're a wholesome family, and also because the First Lady has duties! While Melania eventually moved into the White House with her husband, it took almost a year to get her to D.C. She still showed up for major events, on the people's dollar, but it took her until June 11, 2017, to officially set up shop in town.
Melania cited wanting her son Barron to finish his school year in New York before moving him to another part of the country.
She Held No State Dinner In 2017Photo: US Department of State / state.gov / Public Domain
The First Family holds state dinners as an opportunity to host allies and foreign dignitaries in order to keep international friendships alive. They happen every year, and they're usually formal and fancy. However, in 2017, that tradition went out the window when the Trump presidency took over D.C. Since the First Lady traditionally plans and hosts these functions, all eyes turned to Melania.
It may have been unfair to blame her for the lack of a state dinner, as Donald Trump stated during the campaign that he would refuse to host a state dinner as long as the country was in a trade deficit. When the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was asked about the break in tradition she said there was no "singular reason."
Melania Didn't Escort A Visiting Dignitary's Wife Around D.C.Photo: ospedalebambinogesu / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
It's tradition for the First Lady to show a visiting dignitary's wife around the White House and Washington, D.C. whenever anyone visits, but in February 2017, Melania passed on this obligation when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife came to town. CNN says that Trump met with Abe's wife upon her arrival at the White House but that she disappeared soon after their initial meeting.
When people began to ask questions about the breach in protocol, the White House released a statement saying that Mrs. Abe had prior engagements and that Melania didn't want to impede on her time in D.C.
It Took Forever For Her To Select A Cause To BackPhoto: ospedalebambinogesu / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
Many First Ladies come into the White House with a cause they're ready to champion. Michelle Obama focused on eliminating childhood obesity, and Laura Bush wanted to increase literacy rates. Melania, whom it has already been said doesn't always come prepared, came into the White House without a clear cause to advocate for.
On May 7, 2018, Melania finally announced the "Be Best" program, which seeks to curb cyber bullying and opioid use. In her announcement about the initiative, Melania said, "As a mother and as First Lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often times turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction, or even suicide."