During an interview for the profile, the first lady spoke about how her life has changed since the results of the 2020 presidential election and how she's handling her new role and life in the White House.
Dr. Jill Biden is putting first ladies back on the cover of Vogue. After a four-year hiatus of first ladies gracing the fashion magazine's cover, the 70-year-old is set to become the face of the upcoming August issue which goes on sale on July 20. In an interview accompanying her appearance, Dr. Biden also spoke to writer Jonathan Van Meter about how her life has changed since the results of the 2020 presidential election and how she's handling her new role and life in the White House. "When I became second lady—and there was so much I wanted to do—I always said, 'I will never waste this platform,'" she said. "And now I have a bigger platform."
"And I feel every day, like... What could I give up? That I would want to give up? Nothing. If anything, I feel like adding more things, but I know it's not possible, because you want to stay centered, because you want to do things well. And there's so much to do. There is... So. Much. To. Do," Dr. Biden added. The first lady's desire to use her time, energy, and platform to bring about change on multiple fronts is evident in just how much she's taken on in the six months since her husband Joe Biden swore in as the 46th president of the United States.
In fact, she's positioned herself as much more than her official title as the first lady. According to Van Meter, "in all the places [Dr. Biden] goes lately she is honored as a woman with several degrees who has worked really hard her whole life at the most relatable job there is." Dr. Biden's continued commitment to her profession as an educator seemingly plays a big role in forging strong bonds with those she meets. "I want to thank Dr. Biden from the bottom of my heart for the role that she plays not just as the first lady… but for her heart for educating," Liz Huntley, a sexual abuse survivor whose parents were drug dealers, said during the first lady's visit to Birmingham, Alabama.
"She told me she's grading papers on the plane, y'all! What? Who does that?! You know, they say being an educator is a calling… in your life that you can't resist, and she just won't let it go," Huntley added. On her visit to the Navajo Nation in April, JoAnn Jayne — chief justice of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court — also referred to Dr. Biden's love for teaching. "Dr. Biden, millions reap inspiration from your quote 'Teaching isn't just what I do; it is who I am,'" she said. In her Vogue interview, the first lady revealed how no one thought she could keep teaching once she stepped into her new role.
"I heard that all the time during the campaign," she said. "Like, 'No. You're not going to be able to teach as first lady.' And I said, 'Why not? You make things happen, right?'" Now, as she juggles official first lady engagements with her writing class at the Northern Virginia Community College, Dr. Biden makes it a point that her students see her as first and foremost as their English teacher. "Maybe two months ago they said, 'Hey, Dr. B.... Can we ask you a question?’' I said yeah. They said, 'When we write in our journals, can we curse?'" she said of some of her students. "I don't know what they thought! We never said the words first lady ever. So I said, 'Yes, you can curse.' Because I tell them they can write anything. And here they are, these young men, like, 'Yes! We can curse!' I loved that. After that class, I felt... good. I've achieved what I wanted to achieve: They see me as their English teacher."
These conscious efforts to make people at ease around her are not limited to her students. "I want the White House to feel comfortable. It's like my beach house, where you feel like you can just come in, and your bathing suit is sandy, but it's okay to sit down on the chair. I want people to feel that way, that they're comfortable, that it's their house. Not like, 'Oh, I can't touch this,'" Dr. Biden shared. "There's just thousands and thousands of people who have pictures of themselves with Jill and Joe Biden," explained the Washington Post's Mary Jordan, who has attended numerous events at the vice president's mansion when it was occupied by the Bidens. "Because they're always together, and they threw parties, and they allowed people to take pictures. A lot of people don't do that. Jill and Joe were always there, and it's clear they like people. And Jill doesn't act her age, either, which is great."
While Dr. Biden has brought a renewed grace to the role of a politician's wife, President Biden revealed that she was hesitant to take on the "role of the wife of the United States senator." However, he knew she'd do great things, he added. "But it was clear to me that she knew exactly what she would do if she were first lady. And so she came in, I think—knowing the experience of being vice president, knowing the power of the presidency—knowing that she could change things," said President Biden. Recalling the first time she spoke in front of a truly big crowd, he added: "I was like, That's my girl. So proud. She would just go do it, and she got better and better. And she started saying, 'Joe, you gotta put a little more emotion into what you're doing.'"
According to CNN, Dr. Biden being featured on the cover of Vogue signifies the revival of an American publishing tradition. Almost every modern first lady, with the exception of Melania Trump, has been photographed for the magazine. While it isn't clear which side — Trump's or Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour's — was responsible for this rare occurrence, Wintour has been vocal about her disapproval of the Trump administration. The former first lady, or rather the changes she made to the Rose garden, did come up in conversation during Dr. Biden's Vogue interview. While Van Meter seems to be of the opinion that Trump didn't deserve the hate she received and that "she made it better," first lady Biden wasn't particularly keen on commenting on it. "Apparently she put in these walkways," she said, before promptly changing the subject to the roses adorning the Jackie Kennedy garden.
Dropped by @TheSweetLobby earlier to pick up some Valentine’s treats for the weekend. Shhh – don’t tell Joe! 💕 pic.twitter.com/YXmtLciuws— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) February 13, 2021
As a Vogue profile about the first lady would be incomplete without talking about fashion, Dr. Biden's effortless and extremely relatable style also came up in conversation. "I like to choose from a diverse group of designers. When I was planning my Inauguration outfits, that's one of the things I considered," she said. "It's kind of surprising, I think, how much commentary is made about what I wear or if I put my hair in a scrunchie. I put my hair up! Or the stocking thing.… It's amazing how much people pay attention to every little detail." And just for the record, she clarified: "And they weren't fishnets. They weren't lace. They were very pretty stockings."