Most members of the Trump clan have never strayed far from the spotlight.
But unlike the rest of the family, after four tumultuous years of Donald Trump’s presidency, former first lady Melania has done the impossible – we still don’t know who she really is.
Love or hate them, other family members dominate the headlines; Donald Trump and his three grown children from his first marriage, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Jr., are always in the spotlight on our TV screens and on our social media feeds.
But as long as that rollercoaster is the Trump administration, Melania has somehow managed to maintain her enigmatic facade.
It’s a fact even Trump’s allies have acknowledged.
Former senior adviser to the president, Kellyanne Conway, claimed in a recent interview that “there is still curiosity and mystery about her”.
So who exactly is the real Melania Trump – and what’s the next step now that her husband is finally being rewarded from the Oval Office?
Who is Melania?
Melania Knauss was born in 1970 in Slovenia, then under the Yugoslav communist regime.
She was spotted by photographer Stane Jerko in 1987 in the city of Ljubljana, and a modeling career in Paris and Milan soon followed, before she moved to New York in 1996.
The young model met her future husband at a party two years later, and the couple married in 2005 before welcoming son Barron – Donald Trump’s fifth child – in March 2006, the same year he became a US citizen.
In 2010, it launched its own accessory line, Melania Timepieces and Jewelery, as well as the Melania Marks Skin Care Collection, but in 2017 both companies were not functioning.
Melania Trump became the US First Lady on January 20, 2017 after her husband won the 2016 election, and she and Barron moved from New York to Washington to join him at the White House in June 2017, after Barron finished the school year.
The 50-year-old’s unfamiliar term as first lady sparked a lot of bizarre theories and wild speculation about what was really going on behind the scenes.
Too many times, the public tends to view him in one of two ways – either as a victim caught in a loveless marriage and held hostage by a strict prenuptial agreement, or a cold, violent criminal.
The first rumors were partially inspired by her own behavior, as Melania was seen repeatedly slapping her husband’s hand at public events during her presidency.
Interest in Trump’s marriage also peaked when former The Apprentice contestant and former White House assistant Omarosa Manigault Newman claimed the first lady was “counting every minute until she is out of office and she could get divorced”.
But the scathing story written by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and adviser to Melania Trump, belies the common belief that the former first lady is a helpless victim, instead portraying her as someone as stout and calculating as her husband.
“He’s not just involved, he’s a supporter of it. And he’s his biggest cheerleader and sadly he’s done nothing but that,” Wolkoff said in a CNN interview after the January 6 siege on the US Capitol.
She duplicated the uninteresting depiction in an op-ed for The Daily Beast, writing: “Many still believe that Melania is helpless, but don’t be fooled; she is also an abuser, of the worst kind … Melania knows and supports. Donald and his point of view. “
Adding to Melania’s mystique are the staunch claims she uses double body to replace her at events during the Trump administration, her long and inexplicable departure after undergoing kidney surgery in May 2018, and her near total absence during her husband’s second and cursed election campaign.
Behind the scenes
First ladies have traditionally used their position to generate positive PR for the president and his administration, to support him on the campaign trail and to fight for their worthy causes.
But Melania Trump has consistently appeared reluctant to take on many public roles outside of her widely promoted “Be Best” anti-oppression campaign.
Her lack of interest in the role of first lady has not gone unnoticed.
The Atlantic showed an abnormality in October last year, right before Donald Trump’s defeat in the November 3 election.
“You know the first lady in a hundred ways: wearing couture in Vogue and blue jeans in People; sitting on the couch of the morning show or next to a late-night talk show host, who treats her gently and laughs as she gallantly cracks up some nasty jokes. , “said the article.
“But here we are, maybe at the end of this administration, and Melania is as mysterious now as when her husband walked up the steps of the White House to shake hands with the Obama family.”
Equally mysterious were his post-White House plans. Melania has revealed little about her next steps apart from her reported hopes of publishing a coffee table picture book about her personal style in the months to come.
After four years under the spotlight, Melania Trump has managed to reveal nothing about herself, other than how much she seems to value her privacy and freedom.
And now that Trump has finally left the White House, it looks like we’ll never know much about the man behind designer clothes and empty smiles.