The Transformation Of Ivanka Trump From 6 To 38 Years Old

Ivanka Trump has gladly admitted that, as the eldest daughter of Donald Trump and an heir to his literal and proverbial fortunes, she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. "I consider the position I'm in to be a great responsibility and one I intend to use wisely," she wrote in her 2017 memoir, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for SuccessMore than perhaps any of the reality TV star-turned-POTUS' other children, Ivanka has followed in his footsteps: positioning herself throughout her adult life as a savvy real estate exec, an entrepreneur, and a tasteful celebrity, she stepped up when The Donald ran for president and joined him in his political ambitions. 

Whether her future holds another stint in the White House or a return to the world of business, this first daughter has spent her entire life in the public eye, and she's unlikely to stop any time soon. Let's take a look at the evolution of Ivanka Trump into one of America's most powerful personalities.

Ivanka Trump grew up loving and admiring her mom, Ivana

Ivanka Trump, seen here at 6 years old in 1987 with opera legend Plácido Domingo, mother Ivana Trump, and younger brother Eric Trump, undeniably lived a privileged life as a child. Named after her mom, who happened to be Donald Trump's first of three wives, Ivanka explained in a 2010 tweet, "My actual name is Ivana. In Czech, Ivanka is the baby name for Ivana, like Bobby is to Robert." 

In her Women Who Work memoir, Ivanka described the close bond she's always shared with her mother, who influenced her young daughter while managing real estate deals for the Trump Organization alongside Donald. Remembering Ivana as "impeccably dressed, in full makeup and four-inch high heels" while inspecting a construction site, Ivanka wrote, "It was my mother, unapologetically feminine in a male industry, who first embodied and defined for me what it meant to be a multidimensional woman — a woman who works at all aspects of her life."

Ivanka Trump was the apple of her father's eye

Seen here with Donald Trump in the early '90s, Ivanka Trump had plenty of attention lavished on her by her dad while growing up. As a 10-year-old, she would place collect calls to Donald's office at the Trump Organization, and would hear her father put her on speakerphone for his guests to observe. 

"It was colleagues, it was titans of industry, it was heads of countries," Ivanka told CNN in 2016. "He'd always tell everyone in the room how great a daughter I was and say cute things and ask me about a test I took." Looking back on her childhood, Ivanka recalled that her father "[wasn't] home every night for dinner," but still showed his love. "He wasn't always physically present," she added, "but he was always available." 

Ivanka Trump weathered her parents' divorce

Ivanka Trump, seen here with mother Ivana Trump, was only 9 years old when her parents announced their divorce — with Donald Trump caught up in a tabloid scandal alleging he cheated with his soon-to-be second wife, Marla Maples. 

"They did a remarkable job protecting us from something largely outside of their control," Ivanka told People in 2016, praising her parents for making a "real effort" to shelter them from the heightened media attention. "We didn't have newspapers in the house for a significant period of time and the TV wasn't on when they weren't there. So they tried to mitigate the attention that that moment received." Ivanka, who said she became "closer with both [her] parents" through the process, thanked Donald and Ivana for "not disparaging the other in front of us."

Ivanka Trump didn't love her boarding school years

Ivanka Trump's teenage years were interrupted when she transferred from the all-girl Chapin School in New York City to the famously well-heeled Choate Rosemary Hall boarding school in Connecticut at the age of 15. Speaking to Spin in 1998, the then-teenage heiress hinted at her complicated on-campus reputation: "There's a deli near campus where I go sometimes, and one day, the owner says to me, 'Ivanka, can I ask you something? People in town are saying that you have a limo waiting for you at all times to pick you up and drive you to your classes. Is that true?'" 

Ivanka didn't speak highly of her Choate years in retrospect, telling Marie Claire in 2007, "I was all of a sudden in the prison of boarding-school life, and all my friends in New York were having fun." 

Modeling didn't stick for Ivanka Trump

Not unlike her stepmother, Melania Trump (pictured, left), Ivanka Trump also entertained a brief modeling career during her late teens. Signing with the Elite Modeling Agency, she landed a cover shoot for Seventeen in 1997 and walked the Paris runway for Thierry Mugler the following year. However, speaking with Marie Claire in 2007, Ivanka dismissed her modeling experiences as "not an endgame" for her "more serious" ambitions. "I didn't particularly enjoy the act of it," she explained. "It's as ruthless an industry as real estate — the people you meet in that business are just as fricking tough." 

Ivanka echoed the mean-girl mentality of the modeling world during a Harper's Bazaar interview. Claiming her real-estate peers "have nothing on a group of catty 16-year-old female models without parental supervision," she said, "That is a mean, tough, aggressive business, and it taught me to build a callus to the projections of others."

Ivanka Trump followed her father to Penn

Ivanka Trump, seen here dressed in a Carolina Herrera gown during a 2002 photo shoot, attended the same college as her father, Donald Trump, and brother, Donald Trump Jr. In 2004, Ivanka graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Business after transferring from Georgetown University before her junior year. 

Praising her educational experience in a 2009 Philadelphia magazine interview, Ivanka said, "Wharton helped me to quickly ease into the world I'm in ... It really just teaches you how to analyze and dissect problems." She also confessed to putting her real estate connections to use while in school, claiming with a laugh, "I did sell a few condos while I was at Wharton. To classmates who were looking, or their parents. Not in exchange for test scores. For checks."

Ivanka Trump's real estate rise

Ivanka Trump was eager to hit the ground running when she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. "By spring of my senior year, I had accepted [a] position at Forest City Ratner," she wrote in her 2017 memoir, Women Who Work, about the Brooklyn-based firm where she would get her start in the real estate business. Ivanka even turned down a position at Vogue to take the job, describing how Anna Wintour called the college grad and attempted to woo her with a job offer — which Ivanka "graciously declined," explaining, "I just wasn't willing to delay my dream of becoming a builder."

Just one year in, a 24-year-old Ivanka decided to leave Forest City Ratner and join the Trump Organization in 2005 to work alongside her father and older brother, Donald Trump Jr.

Ivanka Trump was her dad's 'Apprentice'

Ivanka Trump had already joined the family business, working with her father and brothers as a vice-president at the Trump Organization, when she aligned herself even closer with dad Donald Trump by signing on to appear on The Apprentice in 2006. The reality competition show, which featured Donald booting contestants with his famous catchphrase, "You're fired," was a platform for Ivanka to champion the Trump Organization's goals.

"I've been asked to do all sorts of other shows — you know, stupid stuff — but ultimately they do nothing for the brand," Ivanka explained to GQ in 2007. "They do nothing to advance my ultimate goal of becoming a great developer." While Ivanka told the magazine that she had "no interest in being a television star," Ivanka would periodically appear on The Apprentice and its Celebrity Apprentice spin-off over the next decade. 

Ivanka Trump's love story

Ivanka Trump's life changed in 2007, when the mid-20s real estate exec met future husband Jared Kushner, the son of a New Jersey real estate family who had recently purchased The New York Observer. While speaking to Vogue in 2015, Ivanka described how the two were introduced during a business lunch, set up by friends who thought they could simply do business together. "They very innocently set us up thinking that our only interest in one another would be transactional," Ivanka explained. "Whenever we see them we're like, 'The best deal we ever made!'" 

Sparks clearly flew and Ivanka and Jared, seen above on their wedding day, married two years later at a ceremony at her family's Trump National Golf Club in the Garden State. Jared praised Ivanka to Vogue as "the CEO of our household," while Ivanka wrote in her Women Who Work memoir, "Jared is a tremendous source of inspiration and support."

Ivanka Trump fashioned herself as a work-wear mogul

With a job at Trump Organization and an on-air role on The Apprentice, Ivanka Trump's career was already buzzing when she decided to branch out into the fashion world. Ivanka, seen here at the 2012 Met Gala, launched her jewelry collection in 2007, writing in her Women Who Work memoir, "Women were interested in buying jewelry for themselves — and were no longer waiting for a man to do it for them." 

Going on to launch her eponymous line of clothing and shoes in 2011 (which she eventually folded in 2018), Ivanka added, "I was really proud of the fact that my collections captured a femininity and a sense of fashion that working women hadn't been able to express even just a decade before."

Ivanka Trump modeled herself as a working mom

Before Donald Trump's presidential role reframed Ivanka Trump as the nation's daughter-in-chief, Ivanka spent the early 2010s continuing to work at the Trump Organization and expand her fashion empire, while also growing her family with husband Jared Kushner. The couple welcomed daughter Arabella in 2011 and son Joseph in 2013, with their third child, Theodore, arriving in 2016

Ivanka's status as a working mom drew praise at the time from Meghan Markle, who interviewed Ivanka in 2014 for her since-archived lifestyle website, The Tig. Calling Ivanka "staggeringly beautiful" and "incredibly savvy and intelligent," the future duchess wrote, "This much I know — when we have drinks, I will make sure I order whatever she does — because this woman seems to have the formula for success (and happiness) down pat."

Ivanka Trump hits the presidential trail

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, Ivanka Trump notably took the stage to introduce him to the crowd. She would stay by her father's side until his eventual victory in 2016, frequently hitting the campaign trail, with Politico praising Ivanka as Donald's "most powerful surrogate." She also appeared in television ads aimed at mothers to pitch Donald's alleged support for working women.

Similarly, Ivanka served as a powerful voice, defending her father against his widely-criticized verbal attacks on women, including his war of the words with Megyn Kelly in 2015. "Look, my father is very blunt, he's very direct, he is not gender specific in his criticism of people," Ivanka claimed to CNN at the time of her dad's rhetoric surrounding Kelly. "So I don't think that he's gender-targeted at all."

Ivanka Trump's blockbuster convention speech turned heads

Wearing a pink sheath from — where else? — her own fashion line, Ivanka Trump stumped for her father at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, with her appearance garnering rave reviews from Donald Trump's supporters and the press alike. Per CNN, Ivanka "[revealed] a softer side of the billionaire businessman in a way that almost no other convention speaker has done so far." Meanwhile, convention delegates praised her speech as "perfect" and "amazing" to AP News. 

However, critics pointed out that while Ivanka's rhetoric about pay equality and affordable childcare was impressive, her proposed policies were more similar to Hillary Clinton's platform than that of her father. "In my father's company, there are more female than male executives," Ivanka told the RNC audience, per Vox. "Women are paid equally for the work that we do, and when a woman becomes a mother she is supported, not shut out."

Ivanka Trump impressed with her inauguration look

When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election in an upset over Hillary Clinton, Ivanka Trump was ready and willing to step into a national role, with all the sartorial power that position entailed. For her father's inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2017, she drew praise for her winter-white ensemble during his outdoor swearing-in, wearing a white jacket and trousers by Oscar de la Renta, accessorized with an American flag pin. 

Per USA Today, Ivanka's choice of a white ensemble may have been a reference to the suffragette movement, with the first daughter's look "[packing] style and subliminal messaging, giving a nod to women and the push for equal rights." Ivanka's half-sister, Tiffany Trump (seen alongside Jared Kushner, Ivanka, and Melania Trump), also chose a white look for the ceremony. 

Ivanka Trump's sartorial influence

Ivanka Trump further flexed her fashion influence at her father's inaugural ball on Jan. 20, 2017, wearing a shimmering gown by Carolina Herrera. While some designers spoke out against dressing Melania Trump in opposition to Donald Trump's political views, Herrera told AP News that it was "an honor" to dress "the first ladies of the country." 

During the next several years in the White House, Ivanka alternately drew cheers and jeers for her sartorial choices, with much of the press coverage devoted to the expensive items she regularly wears. An even more serious fashion faux-pas? Prior to shutting down her fashion line in 2018, Ivanka was criticized over her team allegedly sending out press releases identifying a $10,800 bracelet she wore from her own collection, which prompted claims that she was using her political platform for financial gain. 

Ivanka Trump's political rise came at a cost

As a senior advisor to her father's administration, Ivanka Trump has enjoyed perks of her new life as a public official, seen above during her visit to the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which she attended on behalf of the Trump administration. To comply with ethics laws, Ivanka stepped down from her position with the Trump Organization in order to assume a role in the White House, with her husband Jared Kushner leaving his roles with Kushner Companies and The New York Observer in order to also accept an advisory role with the president. 

Their business decisions did not leave Ivanka and Jared financially struggling, however, as the couple reportedly "earned at least $36 million in outside income" in 2019, per The Washington Post.

Ivanka Trump's White House trials and tribulations

Ivanka Trump, seen speaking at a cabinet meeting, has reportedly played a key role in various Trump administration efforts during her time working alongside her father in the White House. Ivanka's work has included her involvement in an initiative supporting women's development and education around the world, as well as increased funding of STEM and computer science education in U.S. schools. 

However, Ivanka's efforts within her father's administration haven't always been received warmly on the global stage. This very much includes her famously-panned appearance at the 2019 G20 summit, where she was mocked over videos showing her appearing to awkwardly interact with world leaders. Ivanka was also criticized when Donald Trump floated her name as a potential United Nations ambassador, with her father addressing the matter on Twitter, claiming, "So nice, everyone wants Ivanka Trump to be the new United Nations Ambassador. She would be incredible, but I can already hear the chants of Nepotism! We have great people that want the job."

Ivanka Trump reportedly began to step back from her dad

Years into her White House tenure, Ivanka Trump maintained a powerful role while allegedly beginning to isolate herself. White House insiders cited by The Atlantic claimed that Ivanka entered a "bunker period" around the fall of 2017, participating less frequently in meetings and only involving herself in issues central to her passions for women and education. Of former chief of staff John Kelly's reaction to Ivanka, a source alleged, "He kind of walked in and looked at Ivanka like, 'What the f**k is Barbie doing in the West Wing?'" 

Meanwhile, Ivanka's own brother, Donald Trump Jr., told the outlet that Ivanka's role in the administration had affected her reputation among her wealthy friends. "She was loved by all the people in the world she wanted to be loved by," he said of Ivanka's rosy past. "I can't say she's not disappointed by them turning on her ... I just think I figured it out a little bit earlier than she did that people were going to see us differently after my father won."

Ivanka Trump's controversies continued into 2020

Despite Ivanka Trump's seemingly less-visible White House role, she still bore the brunt of criticism in 2020 for several appearances that were widely seen as missteps. In a July 2020 ad campaign, Donald Trump's oldest daughter told Americans to "Find Something New," urging those unemployed amid the pandemic to pursue new careers. The campaign, of course, was lambasted by critics on social media for its lack of sensitivity toward out-of-work Americans, with Ivanka responding to one negative tweet by claiming, "This work has never been more urgent." 

Ivanka was also lampooned for posting a photo of herself posing with a can of Goya black beans, part of the Trump administration's mutual support of the Goya brand, which prompted Democratic senators to accuse Ivanka of violating ethics laws. Ivanka's tweet containing a Bible verse, which she shared in the midst of America's widespread Black Lives Matter protests, didn't go over any better with her critics.

A White House future? Ivanka Trump is uncertain

The White House fate of Ivanka Trump remains unknown as Donald Trump's re-election battle against Joe Biden continues to rage on, as of this writing in 2020, leading up to Election Day in November. Speaking to Face the Nation the previous December, Ivanka cast doubt on whether she'd return to the Trump administration if her father won a second term, saying her "kids and their happiness" would determine her choice. "My decisions will always be flexible enough to ensure that their needs are being considered first and foremost," she explained. "So they will really drive that answer for me." 

Ivanka did indicate that her work with the administration remained "unfinished," however, saying, "We've done so much, but it's not enough yet."