Hidden nod behind Jill’s election dress

 

The 2020 election has become historic in more ways than one: Donald Trump becoming a one-term president, Kamala Harris the first Black American and woman to become vice president-elect and now - a first lady with a job.

Jill Biden will become the only first lady in 231 years with a full-time teaching job, reportedly planning to continue her work when she takes up one of the world's most scrutinised roles.

The 69-year-old, who worked as a public school teacher for 20 years, has been hailed for her commitment to education after joining husband, president-elect Joe Biden on stage for his acceptance speech, who also credited her "dedicating her life to education".

"Teaching isn't just what she does - it's who she is," he said.

"For America's educators, this is a great day: You're going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill is going to make a great First Lady."

While she is credited for her work ethic and making history for working women, she also stole the spotlight in other ways.

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Her asymmetric floral dress also had some thought behind it, reportedly paying homage to former first ladies before her.

The incoming First Lady wore Oscar de la Renta, a favourite among Jackie Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan.

The Dominican fashion designer dressed every first lady since Jackie Kennedy, designing the inaugural ball gowns for Clinton and Regan and Kennedy's iconic peach gown.

According to Vogue, the choice of outfit was notable "because it was designed by Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, both immigrants to the United States who trained under Oscar de la Renta (himself an immigrant from the Dominican Republic)."

 

 

But there's more to the incoming First Lady than just an iconic dress, nor is she a stranger to the political spotlight.

She is also a professor, a mother, a grandmother and the rock that kept Biden going after tragedy struck nearly five decades ago.

U SA Today is among the throng of fans who say Jill "will be historic in her own way".

"She is going to be a terrific First Lady," Michelle Obama, who worked closely with Biden as First Lady, said in a statement to the publication.

 

Jill Jacobs was born in 1951 and grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her father rose up the ranks in banking from teller to president, and her mum was a homemaker.

Jill was in the process of divorcing her first husband when she met Joe Biden, a widower who was commuting daily from Delaware to Washington, where he served as a US senator.

The couple wed in 1977, and she became "Mum" to his sons Hunter and Beau. The Bidens have a daughter, Ashley, who was born in 1981.

 

 

While raising her family, Biden also earned two Master's degrees. She would eventually earn a doctorate in education, and now teaches at Northern Virginia Community College.

Since then, the couple has been through two failed presidential runs, his eight years as vice president, the death of Beau Biden after a battle with cancer - and now, a successful White House campaign.

"If we get to the White House, I'm gonna continue to teach. It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession," she said.

It comes as no surprise to insiders - Biden continued teaching at Northern Virginia Community College during the eight years as her tenure as second lady.

"I want to do what I love," she told People in 2009 after beginning her new job in Virginia.

"I knew if I let any time-lapse, I would be sucked into Joe's life. I can have my own job, my own life, but also work on issues. I can have it all, really."

 

Throughout her husband's third race for the White House, Biden was one of his most effective and forceful surrogates.

She campaigned tirelessly, crisscrossing early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire and battlegrounds such as Florida and Michigan in the home stretch, often headlining smaller events.

She presented her husband as the candidate who best appealed not only to moderate Democrats, but also to independents and Republicans disappointed with Trump.

"If Biden continues to teach, she will forever change the expectations and limitations of the position," Kate Andersen Brower, author of "First Women: The Grace & Power of America's Modern First Ladies," told AFP.

"I think it could prove challenging, balancing a job and the tremendous work of the first lady, but I also think it will expand our ideas of what first ladies are capable of," she said.

Jellison warned that Biden could face backlash from those wanting a more traditional first lady, but she and Brower agreed the time has come for a change.

"We will surely have a male presidential spouse one day and I don't think anyone would expect him to give up his day job," Brower said.

Additional reporting by AFP

Originally published as Hidden nod behind Jill's election dress


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