Melania Trump is always in the headlines but not for being a typical first lady. The president’s wife has broken quite a few presidential rules since she stepped into her role. Critics have questioned her relationship with husband. Plus, her immigrant background makes her a groundbreaking first lady. Here are a few ways Melania Trump has strayed from presidential tradition during her husband’s short time in office.
She was not born in the United States
The last first lady to be born outside of the U.S. was Louisa Adams (the wife of John Quincy Adams), who was born in 1748. Melania Trump, born Melanija Knavs, grew up near Sevnica, Slovenia. She became a permanent U.S. resident in 2001. And she was given full citizenship in 2006, about a year after she married Donald Trump.
Next: She is the only first lady that can say this about herself.
She is the only first lady to be born in a Communist country
When Melania Trump was born, Slovenia was actually the northern part of Yugoslavia, a Communist country. It was run by Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito. Only a very small percentage of Slovenians were a part of the Communist Party — her father was one of them. However, Melania Trump was never an active member of the party.
Next: She’s made some career decisions that no other first lady has made.
She posed nude for a magazine
In 2000, Melania Trump posed nude for a cover shoot with British GQ. The magazine reportedly got many requests to put her on the cover (at the time, she was dating Donald Trump). Donald Trump requested the photos be framed and sent to his office, and GQ complied. To this day, Melania Trump still considers it one of her greatest achievements. It is written as such on the White House website.
Next: She publicly spoke about this.
She publicly spoke about her sex life with Donald Trump
In a now-infamous interview with Howard Stern, Melania Trump publicly spoke about what it’s like to be dating Donald Trump (the interview happened before the couple got married). She admitted that she and Donald Trump have sex “even more” than just once per day. She also said that, while on the phone with Stern, she was practically naked.
Next: She considers this to be her most important job.
She is raising her son without the help of a nanny
Most first ladies get some help with raising their children, but Melania Trump refuses. She has stood her ground about refusing to get a nanny for her son, Barron Trump. “I like to be hands on,” Melania Trump told People. “I think it’s very important.” Donald Trump agreed with her decision, saying, “If you have too much help, you don’t get to know your children.” Melania and Donald Trump also say they instilled the idea that alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are bad for their children and have advised that none of them start drinking.
Next: She reportedly had this reaction to her husband’s win.
She cried when her husband won the presidency
Rumors have swirled over whether or not Melania Trump was actually happy about Donald Trump winning the presidency — especially since Fire and Fury was released. In 2017, a family friend told Vanity Fair that becoming the first lady was the last thing Melania Trump wanted. “I don’t think she thought it was going to happen,” the friend said. However, both Melania Trump and her husband have since said that she was extremely happy about her husband’s win and was always rooting for him.
Next: She opted not to do this at the same time as her husband.
She did not want to live in the White House
When Donald Trump moved into the White House in January 2017, Melania Trump stayed behind in New York. She said it was because she wanted Barron Trump to finish out the school year at his Upper West Side school. However, some critics think the reason goes deeper. Some said she was press-shy and living in the White House would only make her uncomfortable. Others said it was because she never wanted Donald Trump to win the election in the first place.
Next: She broke a serious tradition when she did this.
She arrived at the 2018 State of the Union separately from her husband
Perhaps Melania Trump’s biggest rule-breaking moment was when she arrived at the State of the Union separately from the president. Melania Trump decided to ride with those she had invited to the State of the Union rather than ride with the president. The choice once again established her independence from her husband. Plus, she wore a white pantsuit, which some believe was an homage to suffragettes.
Next: Critics had an issue with a Christmas card.
Her Christmas card said Merry Christmas
Critics were atwitter about the Trumps’ Christmas card, according to Daily Mail. Its message was, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.” Naysayers felt the Trumps should have been more politically correct and used an inclusive greeting like the Obamas’ card had, which wished everyone a “joyous holiday season.”
Next: She doesn’t keep in touch with Donald.
She doesn’t keep in touch regularly with Donald
In Fire and Fury, Michael Wolff wrote about how Melania and Donald Trump would sometimes go without contacting each other for days at a time during the presidential campaign. What’s striking about this is that the couple wasn’t even separated by a significant distance. They were living together in Trump Tower, reports People. “He and Melania spent relatively little time together. … Often she did not know where he was, or take much notice of that fact,” wrote Wolff.
Next: This is often a troubling sign of any marriage.
She sleeps in a different bedroom than Donald
Melania and Donald Trump might share a name, but that doesn’t mean they share everything. Unlike most married couples, the pair sleeps separately — as in separate bedrooms, reports The Guardian. Wolff says the Trumps are the first couple in the White House to do this since the Kennedy administration. They also use separate bathrooms. In an interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump expressed his relief that he’s never heard or witnessed Melania Trump pass gas or use the bathroom.
Next: Public body language that is very unpresidential
The hand swat seen ’round the world
Melania Trump’s hand swat seen around the world was definitely another awkward moment. In May 2017, the Trumps touched down in Israel, and when they got off the plane, Donald Trump reached for his wife’s hand. But Melania Trump quickly swatted away his hand.
People instantly thought maybe they were mid-fight when they arrived in Tel Aviv. While most high-profile couples would just hold hands to make things look good, Melania Trump had other ideas. The very next day, the couple arrived in Rome, and it was take two of Melania Trump refusing to hold her husband’s hand.
Next: Melania Trump doesn’t hold anything back when answering this question.
She publicly said she wished she was on a deserted island
Only one week after Donald Trump criticized skeptics of Melania Trump’s happiness, she added fuel to the fire with her Christmas wish. During a visit to the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., a 10-year-old boy asked her, “If you could spend the holidays anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
She replied, “I would spend my holidays on a deserted island, a tropical island — with my family.” Intentional or not, we’re definitely picking up on the first lady’s suggestion that she is tired of being in the White House. Twitter users didn’t let it pass, either.
Comedian Deven Green tweeted, “Melania Trump’s Christmas wish is for her family to go to a deserted island. Funny, that was mine, too.”
Next: This major slight came in the second month of Donald Trump’s presidency.
She didn’t accompany the Japanese prime minister’s wife
In February 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, visited the White House. The first lady will typically accompany the spouses of foreign leaders on their trips around Washington, D.C.
However, Melania Trump broke from this tradition. She did meet with Akie Abe when she first arrived, but when the prime minister’s wife took pre-scheduled stops later in the day, Melania Trump was not there.
After reporters raised questions about this, the White House released a statement saying, “The first lady was very much looking forward to welcoming Mrs. Abe to the White House upon her arrival in Washington; however, she was informed that Mrs. Abe had previous commitments during her stay in DC.”
Next: The first lady typically plans this event, but it didn’t happen in 2017.
She did not host a state dinner in 2017
Traditionally, first ladies plan and host state dinners at the White House. However, in 2017, the Trump White House did not host one, making Donald Trump the first president in almost 100 years to end his first year without a state dinner.
When asked why there wasn’t going to be a state dinner, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was no “singular reason” why. However, some placed the blame on Melania Trump, seeing as planning the dinner is typically the first lady’s role.
Next: Melania Trump has carried on plenty of other first lady traditions.
She has carried on plenty of first lady traditions, though
Just because Melania Trump has broken with a few traditions doesn’t mean she’s not carrying on many others. After all, the first lady has kept up many of the big White House traditions, including the annual Easter Egg roll.
Upon moving into the White House, she also began appearing at more events that the first lady would usually be expected to attend. Plus, like first ladies before her, she has embraced a particular platform. She announced in November 2016 that she would fight cyberbullying as first lady, and she spoke on this issue at the U.N. in September 2017.
Additional reporting by Barri Segal, Sheiresa Ngo, and Brendan Morrow.
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