Do the First Ladies Deserve More Credit?

By: LILJA NICHOLSON

Imagine that one day your husband comes home from work and excitedly announces that he is going to run for the highest government position that the United States has to offer; presidency. In the interest of being a supportive wife, you encourage him and tell him to go for it. You never stop to think about what his campaign run could mean for you and your image.

Although presidential candidates are more scrutinized for what political policies they could introduce, or how they would manage the economy, or what they would do about climate change, and so on and so forth, their spouses are scrutinized for their image. While the media will start tearing apart a particularly inflammatory comment that a president says in an interview, the media will turn on their wives for looking “sloppy” or “overdressed” for the occasion. In Michelle Obama’s autobiography Becoming, she wrote;  “I sighed sometimes, watching Barack pull the same dark suit out of his closet and head off to work without even needing a comb, his biggest fashion consideration for a public moment was whether to have his suit jacket on or off. Tie or no tie?”. While politicians are put under pressure to fit the political ideology of their parties, spouses are put under pressure to fit the American standard for what a first lady should look like.

Traditionally, First Ladies choose a project to devote their time to the White House to. First Lady Melania Trump chose to focus on the fight to end cyber bullying, while First Lady Hillary Clinton advocated for healthcare reform. Although they spend so much time working on their projects, you rarely hear about them. They get no praise, only scorn. The smallest mistake they make can send their reputations into tarnish. We as a country need to look past the misogynistic ideals that we have installed in ourselves and start recognizing the powerful women that are in power, just out of the spotlight. Focus less on the dress designer, and more on the political impact that she makes.

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