• Melania Trump breaks from first lady tradition in many ways. 
  • As a former lingerie model and an immigrant, she’s very different from most modern first ladies. 
  • While Trump has the support of many loyal fans, her time as first lady has been filled with controversies — and a few conspiracies. 

Melania Trump is a first lady unlike any other. 

She’s the only first lady in almost 200 years to be born outside the US, and she’s the only first lady whose native language isn’t English. Trump is also the first first lady to be a former lingerie model.

Her actions as the first lady of the US have similarly broken from tradition, winning over loyal fans and sparking questions from conspiracy theorists. Trump has become known for her fashion choices, with fans applauding her designer outfits and critics slamming her expensive tastes. 

On Sunday, April 26, she is celebrating her 50th birthday.

Here’s what we know about the mysterious first lady — and the conspiracies and controversies that have dogged her during Trump’s presidency. 

SEE ALSO: Melania Trump has a Secret Service agent who looks strikingly similar to her — and it’s fueling a wild conspiracy theory

Melania Trump was born in Slovenia in 1970, making her the only first lady to have been born outside the US other than Louisa Catherine Johnson, the wife of John Quincy Adams. (She was born in England, though her father was an American merchant.)

Source: GQ, Business Insider

She started modeling in the late ’80s and moved to New York City to pursue a career in 1996.

While modeling in Europe, Melania reportedly learned to speak in five languages, making her the most linguistically gifted first lady in American history.

Source: GQ

Once she moved to New York, friends say that Trump avoided parties, choosing instead to exercise, go to bed early, and eat healthily, friends say. She reportedly consumes seven pieces of fruit a day.

Donald Trump met Melania at a party in 1998, which he attended with another date. Melania refused to give him her number at first, but later asked for his and ended up calling him a few days following.

Source: Business Insider

The couple married in 2005 at a star-studded wedding where the guests included Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, Kelly Ripa, Barbara Walters, Rudy Giuliani — and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Barron, their son, was born in 2006. While the Trumps have staff to help with cooking and housework, they reportedly didn’t hire a traditional nanny, and Melania frequently helps Barron with his homework and takes him to sports practices.

Source: Business Insider

When Donald Trump began his presidential run, Melania Trump was happy to stay in the background.

Her first major political scandal took place when she reportedly copied parts of her Republican National Convention speech from a speech Michelle Obama had given at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Source: Business Insider

The scandal didn’t slow down the Trump campaign. Melania Trump officially became the first lady of the United States in January 2017.

Trump and Barron, however, did not immediately move to the White House, staying in New York City until the end of Barron’s school year. It was a pricey decision, with security costing roughly $27 million.

Source: Business Insider

When the first lady and the president were together, people had a lot to say about their body language. During a trip to Israel in May 2017 — President Trump’s first trip abroad since he took office in January — much was made of the seemingly odd body language between the pair.

Source: Business Insider

In May 2017, Trump faced her first true scandal as first lady when she wore a $51,500 Dolce & Gabbana jacket to at the annual G-7 summit in Catania, Italy. Critics slammed her for wearing an outfit that cost more than most Americans earn in a year.

Source: Business Insider

Following the incident, Trump toned down the pricey clothing, though she still wore a $1,380 Balmain shirt to Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden.

In June 2017, soon after Trump and Barron finally moved into the White House, her parents came to visit. Many were struck by how much her father, Viktor Knavs, looked like Donald Trump.

Melania faced another fashion scandal in August when she was spotted wearing sky-high stilettos heading to an area devastated by Hurricane Harvey. (She changed into more appropriate clothing on the plane.)

Source: Business Insider

And, she faced drama outside of fashion when Ivana Trump, the president’s first wife, called herself the real first lady in October 2017. Melania’s spokeswoman called Ivana’s comments “attention seeking and self-serving noise.”

Source: Business Insider

Perhaps the strangest thing to happen to Melania Trump yet in her first year as first lady is the rise of a bizarre conspiracy theory that she has a body double. The theory is based on little evidence other than one bad photo of Trump and the fact that she has a secret service agent who looks strikingly similar to her.

Source: Business Insider

Trump didn’t immediately take on any major political stances as first lady, but started quietly taking action on a handful of issues by 2018. Initiatives include speeches to address bullying and solo trips to speak with those affected by the opioid crisis.

Trump took a major step when she embarked on her first solo international trip in October 2018. The first lady spent the five-day, four-country tour in Africa exploring programs dedicated to childhood well-being.

The trip was also significant considering it came after the president had spoken about the continent in vulgar and inaccurate terms, reportedly calling certain African countries “sh*thole countries* in January 2018.

Source: Vox

Over the course of the holidays and through other official duties that came with the Trumps’ third year in the White House, first lady Melania has established herself as a key figure in the raucous administration.

Along the way, she’s become the most popular Trump in the White House. A February 2019 Fox News poll had the first lady has a 47% approval rating after two years in the White House, compared to the president’s 43%.

Source: Fox News

The first lady was the subject of a biography published in December 2019. “Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography,” by CNN’s Kate Bennett detailed little-known details about Trump’s fashion, strategy, and life inside the White House.

Sources: “Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography,” Business Insider

The year 2020 brought new opportunities for the first lady to appear at the head of the administration, including a trip to India.

Source: Insider

The first lady also made occasional appearances throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, either in front of socially distanced reporters or through video messages.

Source: The Associated Press