One female who has always been prevalent in US politics is the First Lady.
The term ‘First Lady’ is documented to have been officially used when Zachary Taylor referred Dolley Madison, James Madison’s wife as the ‘First Lady’ in 1858. Before that she may have been called ‘Lady’ or ‘Mrs President.’
The First Lady is the ‘hostess’ of the White House and is generally the wife of the sitting president. The position has been filled by close relatives or friends when the President is a bachelor, widow or his spouse is unable to fulfil the duties of a First Lady.
The First Lady’s duties are not official, nor is she paid, but she is expected to organise and attend official ceremonies and functions either with, or in place of, the President. They have also been campaigners, policy advocates and socialites. She is also not expected to gain employment outside of The White House.
Nancy Regan summarised in her own words the role of the First Lady, ‘The First Lady is, first of all, a wife,’ and ‘No First Lady need to make apologies for looking out for her husband’s personal welfare.’ Thus, the role of the First Lady is to look after and advise her husband.
Particularly in modern times, The First Lady has been involved with particular causes, supporting and promoting them. These causes will be ‘safe’ cause that will not be politically devise. For example, the current First Lady, Michelle Obama, supports and promotes child nutrition.
Michelle Obama, wife to Barrack Obama, is now seen as a role model because of the causes she supports. She has also frequently visited homeless shelters and sent representatives into schools. She indeed has avidly supported her husband; she was once an associate in a large law firm in Chicago. Once his campaign for Presidency started in 2008, she cut her work commitments by 80%. She now fully embraces her role as supportive wife and role model. In 2009 she wanted to spearhead change in childhood obesity and developed a new initiative called, ‘Let’s Move!’ She has gained nationwide support for her efforts in promoting healthy living by planting a White House vegetable garden, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady from 1933 to 1945.