They say that behind every great man is a great woman. In politics, this often becomes obvious in the unexpected sphere of fashion. The presidential visit to the G7 conference this week was one of those instances.
This afternoon, as the First Lady appeared in Cornwall, England ahead of the G7 conference and stopped to speak with reporters, she was wearing a particularly well-chosen jacket. On the back of the simple black piece was a message subtly adorned with sparkle: “LOVE”. It seemed like a pretty deliberate contrast to another message adorned on the back of another First Lady’s jacket when she went on a trip with her husband — namely Melania Trump’s infamous “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” which she wore on a visit to an immigration detention center in Texas amid a scandal about children being separated from their families at the border.
First Ladies are expected to play a very difficult part, looking supportive at all times yet not overbearing; being active but not “too” active. Their fashion choices and facial expressions are dissected by the media at every opportunity, whether it’s fair or not, and they are aware of it. If one wants to send a message to the reporters gathered to photograph them on official business, it is very easy to tell folks they “really don’t care”. The message will be disseminated far and wide.
Watch: First lady Jill Biden wears jacket with ‘love’ written on the back
When asked by journalists if she could explain her choice of jacket, Dr Biden simply said that she was bringing “love from America”. As polls show international approval ratings for the US president skyrocketing now Trump is out of the Oval Office, it’s clear Jill wants to paint a picture in direct opposition to her predecessors. What’s unclear is whether this fashion choice was made before or after Vice President Kamala Harris made a speech in Guatemala earlier this week urging potential immigrants and asylum seekers: “Don’t come.” Was this a subtle suggestion that Jill feels differently, a Jackie Kennedy-esque show of support for those who seek to come to the US from other countries? Did she deliberately choose this moment to say something quiet but caring about refugees, considering where Melania Trump was when she debuted her own lettered jacket? Or was this simply about stating who she is and who she isn’t as a First Lady? We don’t know, and we will probably never know.
What we do know, however, is simple: the world needs more love and kindness expressed through the actions of its leaders. We need more visuals signs that say “Love” rather than “I really don’t care, do u?” We need healing through brightly colored flowing fabrics that say we are going to power through the darkness of the previous era. We need softness and sparkle and optimism. We need to feel like love is a good place to start for someone living in the White House, rather than hate, division or fear.
After everything we’ve gone through, it’s about time we had a First Lady like this. And it’s about time we considered that if you’re spending all your time with the president of the United States, “not caring” isn’t an option.
Watch: Funny moment Jill Biden ushers President away in Cornwall