Melania Trump's Unearthed Magazine Cover Is Raising Eyebrows

Before Melania Trump was our FLOTUS, she had a career as a model, and like any hard-working woman, she had to hustle to pay the bills. While anyone has a résumé of previous jobs that follows them, there's a big difference when your résumé comes in the form of photos, especially magazine covers.

With this in mind, New York Post recently unearthed an 18-year-old New York Magazine cover that features Melania before she married Donald Trump, before she was a mother, and certainly before she carried the pressure of representing the United States to the rest of the world. The magazine cover apparently was a tribute to 9/11 and captured Melania showing her gratitude to the firefighters of New York — or more specifically, one firefighter with a kiss.

Whether you're a President Trump fan or not, his famous wife Melania has proven very capable of making her own headlines, and in this case, the response is divided. Some people are shocked and appalled at the now-first lady's cover, while others think it's no big deal since Melania was a model after all. 

Melania Trump transformed from model to first lady

While other First Ladies may have taken a more political or academic route to becoming the most-watched woman in America, Melania Trump had a different path. Born in communist Slovenia, then-Melania Knauss modeled for her mother, who was a fashion designer, according to Time. Later, Melania ventured to the capital, Ljubljana, after she was discovered as a teenager by professional photographer Stane Jerko, who helped to launch her career. She then steered away from her mother's business to model for bigger names. According to Today, Melania first worked in Paris and Milan before moving to the United States in 1996. 

It was in New York that Melania met a real estate developer and began to date him, blissfully unaware that his last name would one day be inscribed on the White House and not just on American skyscrapers. Melania and Donald Trump didn't get married right away, though, and it was during this time of dating that New York Magazine asked Melania to appear on their cover.

According to the New York Post, journalist Matt Haber had to remind the mag that the model they hired ended up becoming one of the most famous women in the world. New York Magazine reflected on their own website, "The female model we'd hired was a pretty young Slovenian named Melania Knauss, who had been dating a New York real-estate developer on and off for several years, and married him a couple of years after that." 

Melania Trump's firefighter kiss was a nod to another famous photograph

The now-infamous New York Magazine cover featuring then-Melania Knauss was pitched as a tribute to the 9/11 firefighters who were heroes in New York, thanks to their valiant efforts following the tragic attack. Even so, the cover is remarkably playful; it's the February cover, so the magazine was having some fun with Valentine's Day and the fact that it was the "Singles" issue.

According to New York Post, the 2002 cover was also a modern remake of the famous V-J Day photograph, where the Navy soldier smooches the nurse — except instead of the male figure practically overpowering the female figure, this new cover features the woman pursuing the man, at least based on her body language. 

While Melania was a paid model, the guy on the cover was a real-life firefighter and still currently works in New York. His name is Daniel T. Keane, and at the time of the photograph, he was working on "Engine 1, Ladder 7," according to New York Post. Since his famous smooch, Keane has worked his way up and is now an FDNY battalion chief — a chief who happened to kiss the first lady, not too shabby. Keane recalled that the hair and makeup artist on shoot asked him about the model, "Do you know who that is?" When Keane answered that he didn't know any models, they replied, "That's Melania Knauss... That's Donald Trump's girlfriend."

This isn't the first time Melania Trump's modeling made waves

Of course, Melania Trump's New York Magazine cover isn't the only photo that's surfaced since she became first lady. There have been others — and far racier ones than kissing a firefighter. Those NSFW photos are often used to shame Melania and contest her ability to function as a political wife. (Since there's no way to know if those criticisms solely come from Democrats, it may not be a political divide so much as outdated gender expectations embedded within American culture.)

In response to a recent tweet about Melania's New York Magazine cover, comments flooded in. Some people loved the photo, writing: "I love how she's the one going for the kiss, in contrast to the infamous WW2 where the woman is being held and kissed against her will. Great cover, great model," followed by a heart emoji. Another person asked New York Magazine: "So why haven't you put her on your cover now that she is FLOTUS?"

Other remarks weren't so peppy. Someone commented, "Well, at least she has clothes on – for a change." Another person simply wrote, "She is not a Lady." Someone else said, "Jeez, she looked kind of fat." First of all, body-shaming is never okay. Secondly, no matter what your political views are, it seems remarkably unfair that Melania is being judged for modeling work she got hired to do 18 years ago. It's in the past! Just let her live.