Ladies and Gentlemen, the First Lady of France!
I’d been thinking long and deep about the cultural role played by First Ladies, and supermodels, and women’s roles in general. It all started when I read Time’s cover story on Michelle Obama. Michelle is a role model in a way than no other First Lady has ever been before (at least in my lifetime). I know that a First Lady’s job is to be a living embodyment of her husband’s agenda. We’ve just had eight years of Laura Bush, the good little Christian housewife who keeps her head down and her mouth shut. Before that we had Hillary, who was the opposite, hellbent on proving her liberal feminist credentials by sitting at the big boys’ table. Yes, Hillary is a strong feminist role model, but does any woman really aspire to be like Hillary? No. Real women admire Michelle Obama because she’s a smart and accomplished woman who’s not ashamed to be stylish and fit, and actually seems to be having fun being First Lady. Michelle is very cool, as First Ladies go, but she’s no Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Americans couldn’t even imagine having Carla Bruni as First Lady. Bruni is completely independent of her husband. If anyone benefits from their union it’s him. She’s wealthy and famous in her own right, she needs nothing from him. She doesn’t even share his political beliefs (she is much more liberal than he). Can you imagine an American President whose wife is so independent? In fact American politicians rely so heavily on their families to appeal to their potential constituents. In America it would be impossible for the wife of the President to not be defined first and foremost as First Lady, no matter what her other accomplishments may be. Being First Lady is not even close to being Carla Bruni’s defining accomplishment. Carla is heiress to Italy’s CEAT tire manufacturing fortune. In the 90s she became one of world’s highest paid supermodels. She dated Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger (but not both at the same time). She is an acclaimed singer/songwriter. Carla Bruni is a talented, brainy, rich and iconically beautiful woman who just happened to fall in love with the President of France. There’s a First Lady we can all look up to!
Carla Bruni has always been known as ‘the smart supermodel’. She’s also the musically gifted one. Her musical career has been highly acclaimed and commercially successful everywhere except the U.S. (where we like both our singers and our supermodels brainless). I recommend No Promises, her 2007 album. No Promises is a collection of famous poetry set to music by Bruni. It includes works by Emily Dickinson, Auden, Yeats, Dorothy Parker and Walter de la Mare. This one is a Yeats.