(THE PICKET) – Since Martha Washington, the American people have been fascinated with the first lady’s fashion. Although styles change, Shepherd students interviewed in late January agree the first lady must uphold a certain image.
Jade Sammons, 18, a freshman communications major, said she doesn’t pay attention to what the first lady wears, but she thinks it’s important for the first lady to set a positive standard. “They’re definitely a public figure,” she said of first ladies. “I think they should hold themselves to a higher standard.”
“There’s no traditional image of the first lady,” said Dr. Kathleen Corpus, an associate professor of Family and Consumer Science. “Each one of the first ladies we’ve had has really had her own style.”
“Michelle Obama was criticized because she came out with a sleeveless dress, and people were horrified that a first lady would show her arms,” she said. “Dolly Madison was well-known for the plunging neckline and her vivacious parties.” She said styles have changed so much, there’s no real consensus on what a first lady should wear.
Thomas Edwards, 21, a junior economics major, said the first lady should uphold an image of “integrity and respect.” He said “the way she dresses should be a reminder that she is also representing her husband, who’s in charge.” He said the current first lady, Melania Trump, displays integrity, honesty, and sincerity in the way she dresses. “That’s the past, she’s done with it,” Edwards said, after he was asked about Melania Trump posing nude.
“I think they may have chosen colors carefully, or tried to choose an image,” Corpus said, but she doesn’t believe a first lady’s platform had influence on her style. “I think sometimes we read things into the clothes and the symbolism.”
Corpus said people pay so much attention to what the first lady wears because “the fashion industry is a $28 billion industry.” She said “clothes reflect who we are, sometimes what we think.”
Chantal Mcloud, 20, a junior psychology major, said she doesn’t follow the first lady’s fashion either. She said the first lady should dress “professionally,” unless “they’re just going to the store or something.” She also said the first lady is a representative of the United States.
“I would hope that when we elect a president, we have a first lady that would have that ingrained in her. I don’t know it’s a responsibility,” Corpus said about a first lady’s duty to uphold a positive image. “A first lady is really not an elected official,” she said, but they often hold integral roles in the president’s administration.
Paige Conrad is a staff writer for The Picket. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org