When Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency, it wasn’t just his life that changed but Melania’s, his wife. Suddenly, she wasn’t just married to a wealthy businessman but now married to the leader of the free world. Growing up as a child of modest means in Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia), she could have never imagined she’d one day be married to the President of the United States.
Of course, being First Lady brings with it more scrutiny than does being a model. Here are five controversies she’d rather just forget since being thrust into this new limelight.
1) The Daily Mail claiming she worked as an escort.
The British tabloid claimed that before she married Donald Trump, Melania worked as a high-priced escort. This actually led to her filing a defamation lawsuit, claiming she lost out on business opportunities that would have been available to her as First Lady, including selling products like “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance.”
She and the tabloid settled this lawsuit and they printed a retraction. It turns out, there was no evidence that Melania had worked as a prostitute.
2) Accusations of plagiarism of her speech at the Republican National Convention.
The spouse of the candidate is expected to give a speech at their respective convention. Melania followed suit but received accusations that she had lifted chunks of her speech from Michelle Obama.
Melania claimed that these copied portions were inadvertently left in a final draft by a speechwriter who didn’t realize they were part of Michelle’s speech. These portions were supposed to be removed but weren’t.
3) Claims that she worked illegally in the United States.
Considering her husband’s hard-line stance on immigration, this charge was especially embarrassing. Some critics claimed that Melania had actually participated in modeling gigs while on a visitor’s visa, which is illegal.
Melania strongly denied having done this, claiming she only worked after obtaining a work visa. She released a letter from her attorney that claims he had reviewed her file and saw no instances of illegal work from her.
4) Her choice to stay in Trump Tower instead of moving into the White House.
After winning the presidency, many people assumed Melania and son Barron would move into the White House. Melania, however, had other ideas. She said she was remaining in Trump Tower until Barron finished school.
This was controversial because it costs $150,000 per day for security for the first family. She says that she’ll be moving into the White House when Barron finishes school, but some critics are skeptical that she’ll actually leave. She reportedly hates Washington, D.C., and would rather stay in New York.
5) Melania’s nude photos resurfacing.
As a model, Melania posed nude for a French adult magazine in 1995 and for British GQ in 2000. Those pictures resurfaced in July 2016, right after Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination for president.
Many people thought this was unbecoming of a First Lady while others said it was empowering to see a beautiful woman confident in her body. Voters clearly didn’t care because her husband was elected president just a few months later.