By Adam Kluger
The Will to Self
BY JADAN HORYN
OFFICIAL WHITE HOUSE PHOTO BY ANDREA HANKS
One would be remiss to confine Melania Trump to the titles she holds: Supermodel, mother, and First Lady. Her appeal is greater than all of that. She is the sum total of her entire biography. Immigrant. Artist. Fashion Icon– and yes, feminist.
Born in the former socialist state of Slovenia, then a part of communist Yugoslavia, Melania Knavs experienced first-hand the stifling consequences of practiced socialism, created by Tito’s rapacious demand for power. Yet, Melania Knavs was determined to create a life on her own terms.
At an early age, Melania demonstrated an aptitude for modeling. Contrary to popular belief, a pretty face isn’t enough for a successful career in modeling, it requires strenuous effort, determined perseverance, and nuanced business acumen. Melania earned her international modeling contract; it wasn’t given to her like a government hand-out. For many an aspiring model, that achievement alone would have been enough. Ascending to the most prestigious catwalks of Milan, Paris, London, and New York, while representing the world’s premier designers and artists. To Melania, however, the runway wasn’t a platform, but a stairway.
|It was through modeling that she met her future husband and America’s 45th President. She would also become an American citizen and ultimately the First Lady of The United States of America. First Ladies are often defined by their husbands. Seen by many in gendered terms as complementary and compliant, standing by their man without a will of their own. Melania shatters that mold. She defines her husband and defies expectations in every way. Her detractors say she can be aloof. To her admirers, she is mysterious, chic, and something like royalty – a modern Grace Kelly. As our First Lady, Melania has shown a quiet strength and independent spirit while rejecting or refusing to tolerate the suffocating strictures that our culture places on one of the last acceptable gendered stereotypes. That strength of will is precisely why she has become and will remain, such an iconoclast. As an immigrant, none of our ingrained cultural expectations have been imprinted on her mind. She has always seen other First Ladies from without – not within. And as a result, Melania is free to define and refine her role as she sees fit.|
Some Americans, especially those who worship the state, do not like anyone with an independent spirit who thinks for themselves. However, whatever point of view one chooses to view this most exotic member of the White House’s private residence from, her most enduring legacy may ultimately be as the ideal example of the American dream.
She is the living proof of the promises of our nation.
Donald Trump respects Melania. Deeply. In a way that has rarely, if ever, been seen elsewhere in his personal or professional life as President. It is this respect for her strength that allows Melania to accept the position of First Lady on her terms. Not America’s. Not her husband’s. Hers. And that kind of autonomy isn’t something that happens often in any White House.
A modern-day First Lady with a strength of will that deserves the respect of our entire nation.
Maybe someday she’ll get it.
Either way, she will be who she is, NOT what we want her to be.