The identity of First Lady Melania Trump has often been something of a mystery to Americans. The often quiet, willowy former model is typically seen standing dutifully by her husband and has been often scrutinized against a backdrop of expectations formed by previous first ladies.
The Washington Post reports:
Melania Trump has ended up playing the same role as first lady that she appears to play in her marriage: as a decorative, reflective object who matters only because of what she suggests about the man she married.
Following months of prods and suggestions by media personalities that Melania is unhappy in her marriage and possesses no interest in the duties of a first lady, Melania is finally speaking out — against President Donald Trump's first ex-wife, Ivana Trump.
Ivana incited the conflict this week, claiming she is the “first lady” in an interview with ABC, promoting her upcoming book, “Raising Trump.”
In her book, Ivana delves into her marriage to Trump and caring for their three children, Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric. Their 15-year marriage ended in 1992, following Trump's scandalous and highly publicized affair with Marla Maples.
In the opening sequence of her interview, Ivana bragged to a reporter she has a direct line to the White House and speaks with the president every two weeks:
“I don't really want to call him there, because Melania is there. I don't want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that, because I'm basically first Trump wife.”
Ivana then added jokingly, “OK? I'm first lady.”
Although Ivana laughed in this seemingly lighthearted moment, Melania was not amused. CNN reports she released a statement in response through her spokesperson:
Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for Barron and the President. She loves living in Washington, DC, and is honored by her role as first lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books. There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.
However, Ivana insisted she does not envy the role and responsibility that Melania is held to as first lady:
“I think for her to be in Washington must be terrible. It's better her than me. I would hate Washington ... I would not really like to be there. I like my freedom.”
With these words of assurance, Melania has really has no need to feel threatened by her husband's ex-wife. However, Ivana's words may cause one to wonder whether she was referencing Melania's body language, which caused many to suspect that Melania was not on board with her husband's new role as commander in chief.
In fact, The Washington Post reminds us when Melania liked a tweet that read:
— Andy Ostroy (@AndyOstroy) May 3, 2017
It is noteworthy that despite all previous digs at her reticence and lack of enthusiasm, she reacted strongly to Ivana's joke. Perhaps it's because being mocked by the public is somewhat impersonal, whereas Ivana's ties to her husband is extremely personal. Whether this is a new development between the two women or a familiar pattern is unclear. But what Melania has revealed to us is a glimpse into her acceptance and appreciation for being first lady.
Although the conflict was largely dramatized online and compared to a squabbles out of “The Real Housewives” franchise, choosing to speak out may give Americans a little more faith in her as first lady. To our knowledge, the issue is not yet resolved. But the outcome of this interaction may be of significance to Melania's identity, and ultimately, ours.