Melania Trump breaks away from her husband in crucial ways — and it has made her the most popular Trump in the White House

  • Melania Trump is making a name for herself as an "independent" first lady. 
  • President Trump's base has celebrated Melania because she breaks from her husband's aggressive rhetoric and sloppy fashion choices. 
  • The president's bombastic behavior means that Melania needs to be independent if she wants to keep the polished sheen many expect from a first lady. 

Melania Trump is breaking the first lady mold by breaking away from her husband — and it is exactly what the president's supporters want. 

"The East Wing definitely has some independence, but not this kind of independence," an Obama White House official recently told CNN of the Trumps' differing philosophies. "It hasn't before been as though there's a completely different view of the world from one side than the other."

President Donald Trump became famous in large part due to his love of the spotlight; Melania, on the other hand, is seldom interviewed and still rarely speaks in public.

Donald Trump is known for his often-inflammatory rhetoric; most of Melania's first lady initiatives have been quiet solo trips to address bullying and the opiod crisis.

RELATED: Melania Trump throughout her trip to Asia

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Melania Trump throughout the trip to Asia
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Melania Trump throughout the trip to Asia
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania arrive in Seoul, South Korea, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
First Lady of the United States Melania Trump is welcomed by Japan's First Lady Akie Abe as she arrives at Mikimoto Ginza Main Store for a cultural event in the fashionable Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan November 5, 2017. REUTERS/David Mareuil/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump sits with Japan's first lady Akie Abe during her visit to Mikimoto Pearl head shop in Tokyo's Ginza district, Japan, November.5, 2017. REUTERS/Katsumi Kasahara/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump are welcomed by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe with a dinner at Ginza Ukai Tei in Tokyo, Japan November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, second right, and First Lady Melania Trump, left, are welcomed by Emperor Akihito, second right, and Empress Michiko, right, upon their arrival at the Imperial Palace Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Tokyo. REUTERS/Eugene Hoshiko/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump (3rd R) talks with Japan's Emperor Akihito (L) while his wife Melania (3rd R) talks with Empress Michiko (R) at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato
U.S. President Donald Trump, second left, and First Lady Melania Trump, left, are welcomed by Emperor Akihito, second right, and Empress Michiko, right, upon their arrival at the Imperial Palace Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 in Tokyo.REUTERS/Eugene Hoshiko/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive on Air Force One at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Visiting US First Lady Melania Trump wrote a calligraphy with a help of a school girl while attending a calligraphy class of 4th grader with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese prime minister, at the Kyobashi Tsukiji elementary school in Tokyo on November 6, 2017. Melania and Akie wrote characters together meaning "Peace". REUTERS/Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool
Visiting US First Lady Melania Trump writes a calligraphy while attending a calligraphy class of 4th graders with Akie Abe (R), wife of Japanese prime minister, at the Kyobashi Tsukiji elementary school in Tokyo on November 6, 2017. Melania and Akie wrote characters together meaning "Peace". REUTERS/Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool
US First Lady Melania Trump poses with Japanese First Lady Akie Abe before their lunch at the Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan, 06 November 2017. REUTERS/Franck Robichon/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Japan's first lady Akie Abe visit Kyobashi Tsukiji elementary school in Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ma Ping/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Japan's first lady Akie Abe visit Kyobashi Tsukiji elementary school in Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ma Ping/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Japan's first lady Akie Abe visit Kyobashi Tsukiji elementary school in Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ma Ping/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump arrive for an official dinner thrown in their honor by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo, Japan November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania board Air Force One as they depart for Seoul, at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania board Air Force One as they depart for Seoul, at U.S. Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania arrive in Seoul, South Korea, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and South Korea's first lady Kim Jung-sook walk at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jeon Heon-Kyun/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China� President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping and China's First Lady Peng Liyuan in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan applaud during the Banchang Primary School in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump assists a student to adorn a gown near China's First Lady Peng Liyuan during their visit to the Banchang Primary School in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump, and Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, left look as a Chinese student perform Chinese opera during their visit to the Banchang Primary School in Beijing, China, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump talks to children during her visit to Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump poses for photos with children in front of a panda section as she visits Beijing Zoo in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump leaves well wishes on a board after visiting the panda enclosure at the zoo in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Ng Han Guan/Pool
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, in Beijing November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China in Beijing, China, November 10, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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The president loves fast food; Melania eats seven piece of fruit a day.

The first lady's independence from her husband is clear to anyone paying attention to their fashion choices. While Donald Trump has been frequently critiqued for his fashion decisions, such as using Scotch tape to hold his tie in place, Melania Trump is a former model with a closet stuffed with designer clothing. 

"Mrs. Trump is independent and acts independently from her husband," Melania Trump's communications director Stephanie Grisham told CNN after launching her anti-bullying campaign, which many saw as ironic considering Donald Trump's behavior. 

In theory, a first lady who operates independently from the president would seem likely to be unpopular among the leader's biggest supporters. However, Melania is beloved by Trump's base and beyond. According to a CNN poll, the first lady has a 48% approval rating, which is high compared to the president's 38%.

A closer examination of Melania's actions — especially  how she presents herself in public — reveals why the public's support actually makes sense. 

While Donald Trump may be rewarded for "telling it like it is," female political spouses who exhibit less-than-polished behavior don't receive the same applause — especially from the right. 

Michelle Obama was fiercely attacked by conservatives for her casual fashion choices, receiving backlash when she wore shorts on Air Force One. While campaigning, President Trump retweeted an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, the wife of opponent Ted Cruz, with the caption "the images are worth a thousand words."

Trump tweet

Twitter realdonaldtrump

Donald Trump's supporters don't want him to be married to a woman who looks, dresses, or acts like him — they want someone who is better-looking and better-dressed, and who takes a very different approach to how she presents herself. 

Basically, it's the case of the stereotypical sitcom husband and wife. A schlubby-looking man is able to marry a beautiful woman, and no one bats an eye. 

Throughout his campaign, Trump portrayed himself as a man of the people — the sitcom husband. Melania is the beautiful, polished sitcom wife. 

RELATED: A look at Melania Trump in her White House role

52 PHOTOS
A look at Melania Trump in her White House role
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A look at Melania Trump in her White House role
First lady Melania Trump visits American International School of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks as he hosts a Congressional picnic event, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
First Lady Melania Trump holds a baby as U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) greets members of the congress and their families as they attend a congressional picnic event at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
US First Lady Melania Trump with France's First Lady Brigitte Trogneux during the second day of G7 Taormina summit on the island of Sicily in Taormina, Italy on May 27, 2017. (Photo by Gabriele Maricchiolo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 04: First lady Melania Trump and President Donald Trump exit the residence to attend a reception at Ford's Theatre on June 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. first lady Melania Trump introduces her husband President Donald Trump as he rallies with service members at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella at the end of Trump's participation in the G7 summit in Sicily, Italy May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
US First Lady Melania Trump (R) visits the Queen Fabiola children's hospital, on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, on May 25, 2017 in Brussels. US President Donald Trump meets NATO and EU leaders for the first time with the US president set to press nervous allies to do more on terrorism after the Manchester bombing. / AFP PHOTO / BELGA / LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ / Belgium OUT (Photo credit should read LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/AFP/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS , BELGIUM - MAY 24, 2017: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pictured during their meeting with Queen Mathilde and King Philippe of Belgium. (Picture by Didier Lebrun/Photonews via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) and First Lady Melania Trump step off the Air Force One upon arrival at Melsbroek military airport in Steenokkerzeel on May 24, 2017. US President Donald Trump arrived in Brussels ahead of his first talks with NATO and European Union leaders. / AFP PHOTO / Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - MAY 24: US First Lady Melania Trump Visits the Paediatric Hospital Bambin Gesù on May 24, 2017 Rome, Italy. (Photo by Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MAY 24: Pope Francis exchanges gifts with United States President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during an audience at the Apostolic Palace on May 24, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. The President Trump will return on Italy on Friday attending the Group of 7 Summit in Sicily. (Photo by Vatican Pool/Getty Images)
First lady Melania Trump is greeted as she visits GE All women business process service center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and Melania Trump depart the White House to embark on a trip to the Middle East and Europe, in Washington, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. first lady Melania Trump reads the children's book "Party Animals" at the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania Trump are pictured at the 139th annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and China's first lady Peng Liyuan applaud after students performed for them at Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
U.S. first lady Melania Trump watches as eighth grade art students paint at the Excel Academy public charter school in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and first lady Melania Trump (2ndL) welcome Jordan?s King Abdullah (R) and Queen Rania at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump kisses his wife Melania during a "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. first lady Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu look at the lunch counter exhibit during a visit to the African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington, U.S., February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (L) and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, listen to a guide as they tour Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalist members of the travel pool accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump on board of the Air Force One during his trip to Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
With her face bearing the scars of an acid attack, Natalia Ponce de Leon stands with first lady Melania Trump after being recognized at the 2017 Secretary of State?s International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award ceremony at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania Trump walk with their son Barron to Marine One at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. first lady Melania Trump (L) sits with Sara, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a visit to the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sebastian Scheiner/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump host a reception for Senators and their spouses at the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. first lady Melania Trump touches the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in Jerusalem's Old City May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands as they arrive at the Naval Air Station Sigonella to visit U.S. troops before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave the MedStar Hospital Center following their visit to injured victims, after a gunman opened fire on a baseball field where Republican lawmakers were practicing for a charity game, in Washington, DC, U.S. June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for dinner at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump leave after attending the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump reacts during the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Orly aiport after the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stand in front of the American flag at the end of the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, France, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
From L-R, Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. President Donald Trump and First lady Melania Trump pose at the Jules Verne restaurant for a private dinner at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, July 13, 2107. REUTERS/Yves Herman
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) tours Marechal Foch's Tomb with US President Donald Trump (C) and First Lady Melania Trump (L) at Les Invalides museum in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One as they depart Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., enroute to Paris July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump visits the Necker Hospital for children in Paris, France, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump is greeted by Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz during a G20 leaders spouses event at the townhall during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017 REUTERS/Jens Buettner, Pool
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kay Nietfeld,Pool
Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, the husband of the German Chancellor Joachim Sauer and U.S. President Donald Trump stand together after a family photo of the participants of the G20 summit and their spouses prior a concert at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ludovic Marin/POOL
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall during the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Christian Charisius,Pool
First Lady of the U.S. Melania Trump waves as she, U.S. President Donald Trump, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda leave after Trump's public speech at Krasinski Square, in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Warsaw military airport in Warsaw, Poland July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jeong-sook to the White House in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump concludes his remarks while First Lady Melania Trump applauds as they welcome military families who have gathered for a Fourth of July picnic on the South Lawn of the White House prior to a fireworks display, in Washington, U.S., July 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaves the White House after a visit, in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
First lady Melania Trump listens with Vice President Mike Pence (2ndL) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a joint news conference between U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and first lady Melania Trump meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
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It also helps that the areas where Melania is "independent" from the president essentially just require her to be less aggressive, more apolitical, and more put-together.

For comparison, Republicans' perception of Ivanka Trump has dropped as the first daughter has been increasingly seen as a moderating force who makes an active effort to push forward certain policies. Ivanka's independence at times opposes her father's base; Melania's just makes him look even better. 

Donald Trump's bombastic behavior means that his wife needs to be somewhat removed from his politics if she wants to keep the polished sheen of a first lady that his supporters demand. Melania Trump has managed to toe the line between independence and subservience — and it's made her the most popular Trump in the White House. 

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