Melania Trump is approaching her eighth month as first lady of the United States. As first lady, Melania has kept a somewhat lower profile than her predecessor, though she has also certainly partaken in a variety of events and initiatives since her husband took office. Thus, as she settles into her role in the White House, you may find it interesting to take a look back at what Melania has done so far as first lady, in comparison to Michelle Obama.
However, before delving into each first lady's actions and accomplishments, it is important to note that there is no right way to be a first lady of the United States. The topic should be approached with a sense of curiosity and interest, as opposed to an intent to judge whose early tenure was "better." Indeed, as former first lady Laura Bush once said, "The role of first lady is whatever the first lady wants it to be."
Taking Bush's wise words into account, the following is a closer look at just some of what both Melania and Michelle have done. Keep in mind, though, that both women certainly engaged in activities and accomplishments beyond the ones delineated here as well.
Moving In & Staffing The East Wing
Melania did not officially move into the White House until mid-June, nearly five months after her husband took office as president. She had opted to stay in New York City immediately after her husband's inauguration in order to allow her son, Barron, to finish up the 2016-2017 school year.
Perhaps as a result of her delayed entry into the White House, and the Trump administration's desire to downsize federal staff, Melania has a relatively small number of people dedicated to working for her full time — only five individuals are employed in this capacity. However, it is early in Melania's tenure as first lady, so she could indeed decide to further increase her staff numbers.
By contrast, Michelle quickly moved into the White House following her husband's inauguration and seemed to immediately try to make it her own, including through planting a now well-known vegetable garden; she also employed a much larger East Wing staff to implement her agenda as first lady.
Though it fluctuated year-to-year, Michelle reportedly had a staff size of around 25. This falls in line with the staff sizes of immediately preceding first ladies. Laura Bush reportedly had a staff size that ranged from 24 to 26, while Hillary Clinton's staff size ranged from 13 to 19.
U.S. Appearances & Hosting Events
Both Michelle and Melania made an array of appearances in the United States during the first year of their respective husbands' presidencies, often hosting a variety of events.
For example, Melania co-hosted and briefly spoke at the annual Governor's Ball at the White House in February. She also hosted the White House Easter Egg Roll with her husband and held a lunch on International Women's Day, where she gave a speech on the importance of education.
For her part, Michelle was very active on the domestic scene during her husband's early presidency. Along with hosting events, Michelle made remarks on over 20 different occasions during the first three months of her husband's presidency, including making a variety of trips to federal agencies in Washington D.C. reportedly to enhance her public profile and to allow her to get to know Washington better. She also reportedly spent her early days as first lady doing community service, including visiting soup kitchens.
Both Melania and Michelle accompanied their husbands on trips abroad early on during their tenures as first lady. Melania accompanied Trump on his first trip abroad to the Middle East and Europe. She also notably shared a lighthearted conversation with the Pope during what appeared to be an otherwise tense visit. On another trip abroad, to Warsaw, Melania gave introductory remarks before her husband's speech.
Michelle also accompanied her husband on a major European tour in the beginning of his presidency. The former first lady gave a widely-praised speech at a London school for girls during this trip. Moreover, in July 2009, Michelle, her husband, and their daughters Sasha and Malia traveled to Ghana. The trip focused significantly on Michelle's ancestral ties to the West African country.
Platform As First Lady
Melania has not yet officially launched an advocacy platform as First Lady, though she indicated during campaign season that she had hoped to use her position to combat cyber-bullying.
By September of the first year of her husband's presidency, Michelle had also not yet officially launched a platform, though she had begun laying its foundation. In February 2010, Michelle launched her signature "Let's Move" campaign to combat childhood obesity. This campaign helped contribute to the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which established improved nutrition standards for schools and the funding for their implementation.
Overall, both Melania and Michelle have certainly approached the position of first lady in their own way, something perhaps fitting for a position that has no real requirements or guidelines (and, indeed, is one of an unpaid public servant). It will certainly be captivating to see how Melania continues to approach the role over the next few years and how her tenure will compare to that of Michelle.