Melania Trump may be an immigrant but she caught on early to the very American pastime of reinventing oneself, complete with a revisionist history. She has been caught out on various falsehoods since becoming First Lady, the most spectacular being that she is fluent in five languages, when the only evidence of her linguistic skill is that she is fluent in her native tongue and speaks pidgeon English. Other than that, her command of French, Italian, German, and depending upon who’s writing the article, Hungarian or Serbian has yet to be established. Likewise, Melania tells tales about events that happened in her native Slovenia which are, how shall we say? Disputed as to veracity? Let’s start with the Look Of The Year contest, in which Melania claims to have won first place and launched her international modelling career. New Yorker:
The stakes were high, though. Jana promised that the winners would be able to “take their place alongside the most well-known and popular European models, sharing with them the market, the fame—and the money. The earnings in this otherwise extremely difficult and demanding profession are of course astronomic, and most mere mortals get dizzy just thinking about the sums.” The top three girls would be offered contracts in Europe (Paris, Milan, and Vienna, respectively). Melania, who had already done a shampoo commercial, was a runner-up. According to Požar and Omerza, she was devastated. The details of her modelling career between 1992 and 1996, when she moved to New York, are a little hazy, but she went on to have reasonable success, working mostly in print.
Požar and Omerza have a mildly antagonistic history with Melania—a Trump lawyer threatened to sue Požar after he published a newspaper story alleging that she had fake breasts. At one point, they write, they went to photograph the Knavses’ house, and were pursued by [Melania’s father] Viktor in “what could only be called cinematic car chase.” But their reporting is exhaustive, and often backed up with documents and photographs. Despite some creepy overreaches (“He is also supposedly the first man to have ever slept with Melania”), they make a persuasive case that Melania has often retailed the basic details of her life as hyperbolically as Trump does his condominiums. Her mother, she told Mika Brzezinski, was “in the fashion industry for a long time.” Melania has also referred to her as “a fashion designer.” As Požar and Omerza show, Amalija was an employee of the state-owned Jutranjka textile factory, where she worked as a pattern maker from 1964 until her retirement, in 1997.
They call out other fudges: Melania has claimed to have won first place in the Look of the Year contest; her Web site states that she obtained a degree in architecture and design from the University of Ljubljana when in fact she dropped out in her first year. Let’s assume, for a moment, that Melania does have Donald’s ear. Imagine the game of geopolitical telephone that might ensue after a state dinner, with each of them trying to persuade the other how he or she killed with Xi or Netanyahu.
Finally, there is the alt-right claim that Melania has a higher IQ than any other First Lady:
Of course she has never released her IQ score (something that most people with high IQs don’t do anyway). Given that the last three First Ladies included a Wellesley graduate who went on to Yale Law, and a Princeton graduate who attended Harvard Law, a woman who dropped out after her first year at the University of Ljubljana probably isn’t well matched in that department regardless of how difficult the exams to enter there are (that was the position that one of her professors took: she must be intelligent because the entrance exams are quite difficult).
A woman with a degree in architecture and design who speaks five languages, is a supermodel, and whose IQ eclipses all other first ladies is quite an amazing being, by anybody’s standards. Would that she actually existed.