Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Cheryl Jenkins

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


This study examines how the news media portray and frame modern first ladies. By prefacing the research with background information about the history of the role of first ladies, and media theories such as framing, the reader is able to better understand the implications of this coverage. Other previous research delved into gender roles and how deviation from these roles is subject to criticism. The goal of the research is to examine the first 100 days of a presidency to determine if a first lady who steps out of bounds with the traditional societal female gender role is subject to criticism by The Washington Post. This study found that the media are concerned with physical appearance and attire more than other aspects of the role of the first lady. Only when she is involved with politics will she receive coverage other than what relates to her aesthetics, but she is more likely to be seen as a “professional” and not performing the traditional role of first lady.