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20 facts about Melania Trump that show she is unlike any other US first lady

Melania Trump, the wife of United States President Donald Trump, stepped into the limelight this month to launch her anti-cyberbullying initiative, “Be Best”.

Her campaign has been puzzling to some, given her husband’s affinity for insulting his opponents on Twitter, and others ridiculed her for releasing an educational booklet that was virtually identical to one the Obama administration published.

Despite the criticism, the first lady is generally well-liked by the American public and is far more popular than her husband, polls have found.

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Although she is much more private than her predecessors – spending much of her time away from the spotlight – 57 per cent of Americans say they have a favourable impression of her, according to a CNN poll released last week.

Here are 20 facts about Trump that set her apart from other first ladies.

1. She is only the second US first lady in American history to be born outside the US – in Slovenia.

The only other foreign-born first lady was Louisa Catherine Johnson – the wife of John Quincy Adams, the sixth US president – who was born in England.

2. Trump is also the only first lady to have grown up in a Communist country, when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia.

Although money was tight for many people in the small town of Sevnica, where she grew up, people who knew Melanija Knavs – as she was known then – say she was “always very fancy” and “never wore anything from the store”.

3. Melania Trump is the only first lady to be the third wife of a US president. Donald Trump was previously married to Ivana Trump until 1992 and Marla Maples until 1999.

4. She is also the only first lady whose first language was not English.

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5. Melania Trump is a noted polyglot. She can speak more languages than any first lady before her: English, French, German, Italian and Serbian, in addition to her native Slovenian.

6. The US first lady was a successful model, known for her appearances in Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ. She is also the only first lady to have posed nude for magazines, including a British GQ photo spread in 2000.

7. You might also recognise Melania Trump from her appearance alongside the Aflac duck in a 2005 mad-scientist-themed television commercial for Aflac, an American insurance company.

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8. While she towers over many people that she meets, Melania Trump, who is 5 foot 11 inches (180 centimetres) tall, is tied for the tallest first lady with Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt.

9. In addition to her modelling career, Trump was also a businesswoman who launched a jewellery line in 2010 and a caviar-based skincare line in 2013.

10. The first lady is the second first lady who is a practising Catholic – the first was Jacqueline Kennedy. That made her visit to the Vatican last year meaningful.

When she met Pope Francis, she held out rosary beads for him to bless.

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11. Unlike other first ladies, Melania Trump delayed her move into the White House until five months into her husband’s presidency.

12. Though some critics speculated that she was trying to shun her role as first lady, the Trumps have said the delay was because they wanted their son, Barron, to finish his fifth-grade studies in New York.

13. But when Melania Trump did finally move to Washington, the members of the permanent White House staff instantly adored her. It was her thoughtful, everyday interactions with them that made her stand out among other first families, former staffers have said.

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14. The Trumps reportedly “spend very little to no time together”, sleep in different bedrooms and operate on separate schedules, according to some White House aides and friends.

15. There’s even a conspiracy theory going around Washington that Melania Trump doesn’t live in the White House at all and, instead, lives in a house with her parents near her son’s school.

16. However, according to the first lady’s spokeswoman, the rumour is “1,000 per cent false”. The spokeswoman said: “We laugh at it all the time.”

17. Despite the White House’s best efforts, the Trumps’ marriage remains one of the greatest curiosities among the press and the public – especially as controversy grows around an alleged affair between the president and the adult film star Stormy Daniels, as well as claims of a US$130,000 hush-money payment.

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18. Melania Trump hasn’t yet spoken out about it.

Some speculate that her refusing to hold her husband’s hand and taking separate routes to events are telltale signs of conflict. But for the foreseeable future, it looks as if their marriage will stay private.

19. Trump stands out from her predecessors with her quiet manner and reserved personality.

Her friends have described her as someone who likes to stay at home, who often retires from events early and avoids being the centre of attention.

20. But it’s tough to stay private when you’re one of the most recognisable women in the world.

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This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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