In Defense Of First Ladies

Every four years, Americans head to the polls to elect a new president to lead our nation. However, Americans also end up choosing another figure: The First Lady. With each new president, and new First Lady moves into the White House, with new personalities, goals, ambitions, and views. Yet often First Ladies become victims to the actions of their husbands and the fight of words between opponents, when they had no role to play in this. First Ladies also become the object of unwarranted criticisms and judgments. In the toxic arena of politics, one thing needs to be understood: First Ladies deserve a form of special treatment.

I don't mean special treatment in that they should always be free of criticism and should be viewed and treated as a queen. What I mean is that First Ladies shouldn't be treated the same way their husbands. Take Melania Trump for example. When she married President Trump back in 2005, she was expecting to be living in a golden penthouse for the rest of her life, shopping whenever she felt like it, travelling around the world, and raising her son Barron. Instead she ended up being the First Lady of the world's most powerful country, married to one of the most controversial presidents in history. She has become the source of many jokes and statements, from references to her accent to accusations that she is enabling her husband's actions and words. However, we all know Trump is a very independent man who talks with no filter and does whatever he wants, no matter how many times people try to control him. Melania didn't want to be First Lady, yet she ended up in that role and has attempted her best to live up to it, as she decorates the White House for official visits, attends dedicated events, and has now rolled out her initiatives that focus on social media and the opioid crisis. In many, many ways, Melania does not deserve the treatment she has received from many people.

The same thing applies to Michelle Obama. While she most likely knew she was could someday end up being First Lady, based on the path her husband was taking, she still did her best to live up to the expectations the country had set up. She faced unfair criticisms, such as being judged for wearing a sleeveless dress at an event. She was often described by many on the right as an idiot, an ape, and even started a conspiracy that she was, in fact, a man, just to name a few, and most of which are not only unwarranted, but disgusting and childish. Her achievements, such as going from the impoverished South Side of Chicago to attending Harvard Law School, were all but ignored. The fact that she was a remarkable woman was ignored by so many simply because she was married to President Obama.

First Ladies are often attacked simply because they're married to a certain person, but it is important to differentiate the two. First Ladies have their own view points and personalities. First Ladies are their own individuals, separate from the presidents. First Ladies deserve, at the bare minimum, a basic level of respect no matter what their husband does or what party they belong to, for they are in a different, unique role, one that the vast majority of us will never be in or fully understand.

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