Abstract or Introduction
This work will focus on the two latest First Ladies, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump. Not only do they give an overview of how republican and democrat First Ladies eventually are depicted differently, but both first Ladies have a special connection to fashion.
The First Lady of the United States, or FLOTUS, is the President's wife's official title. Her position is a job with no rules or descriptions, but she must fulfill duties, including attending events, giving speeches, supporting her husband, and being the mother of a nation. Unlike the President, her job is not a paid one. At first glance, the First Lady paints an outdated picture of wives. As the mother of a nation, the First Lady is supposed to be a role model. Therefore, magazines and news do frequently discuss the image of the President and the First Lady. Those articles often focus on the FLOTUS’ wardrobe, which might signify the wife's perception as an ornament of her husband. They discuss the wardrobe, considering appropriateness and message. FLOTUS studies study what kind of position the First Lady has, but it also studies her position as a role model. To what extent is the First Lady a celebrity, a politician, and a US-citizen, involving information about American culture, politics, and feminism?
Gossip magazines might, at first glance, appear to focus on unnecessary details. However, fashion studies show that clothes have more meaning to them than just protecting the body from the weather. Already in 1950, John Carl Flugel studied the psychology of clothes and discussed the purpose of clothes. Roland Barthes followed Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory on semiology to study fashion magazines and their clothes' portrayal. Alison Lurie extended fashion theory with an actual fashion vocabulary. Theorists like Barthes have described fashion as a sign system, but Lurie specified how clothes talk. Fashion studies explain how clothes create and convey meaning. Furthermore, they ask who the creator of this meaning is and how culture and politics participate in creating meaning through clothes.
Fashion and political studies have been done before and play an essential role in studying the country that wears it. After all, fashion also participates in social change and is even change itself, as Malcolm Barnard analyses. Therefore, the question about the colors and shape of a clothing item is not petty, but essential to understand a country.
- Quote paper
- Nathalia Rölli (Author), 2020, The Fashion of the First Lady. Differences in the Media Portrayal of Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1363406