She’s already graced Vogue’s cover; now first lady Jill Biden is smiling on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, in a first-ever FLOTUS cover for the 155-year-old magazine.
Inside are a clutch of pictures of her in pretty frocks and a story that highlights Biden’s very busy schedule, her instinctive ability to connect with people and her devotion to her other, paid job as a community college professor.
But the clever digital neologism that will get the attention: Her “fexting” with her husband of 45 years, President Joe Biden.
Yes, they get into arguments (who doesn’t?) but they try to avoid doing it in front of their Secret Service agents, and have done so since he was vice president during the Obama administration. According to writer Mattie Kahn, Jill Biden doesn’t hold back when she’s frustrated about something.
“The president does not get a pass,” Kahn writes. “During the Obama years, they took to hashing out their occasional spats over text to avoid fighting in front of the Secret Service,” a strategy they called “fexting.”
Kahn writes: “Not so long ago, she tapped out a message to him in a fit of pique. Joe said, ‘You realize that’s going to go down in history. There will be a record of that.’” She grins. “I won’t tell you what I called him that time.”
Under the headline, “A First Lady Undeterred,” the admiring story details how Biden has coped with a pandemic, a war and a divided country with “the grace and conviction that has guided her all her life, showing up for her students, her friends and family, the American people, her husband and herself.”
Editor Samira Nasr said in a statement that Biden was a natural choice for an issue focused on freedom.
“We wanted to do this cover with Dr. Biden not as an expression of allegiance to a particular political party but to celebrate a woman who understands the gifts and responsibilities of freedom and who has made it her mission to be there for all Americans and help heal our divided nation,” Nasr said.
Among the story’s highlights:
She’s always worked, and sees working as providing a safety net and personal freedom: “I understand a woman’s need to have something for herself,” she says.
She balances a busy schedule of FLOTUS appearances around the country with teaching at Northern Virginia Community College, the first FLOTUS to keep a paying job while in the White House: The pace is intense but not new. “Showing up matters,” she explains. “That’s the feeling I get. You’re exhausted. You just do it.”
Her routine: Her alarms is set for sunrise. “The first thing I do is open the blinds and look out.” She goes to meetings, she attends barre classes, has dinner with her husband, marks up exams before bed, and twice a week commutes from the White House to teach three classes a week in Alexandria, Virginia.
On how she can quickly recognize someone who is suffering, after enduring her own family’s losses. “I can spot it so quickly,” she says. “Just in their line of sight, their body language.”
On what she learned from her brief first marriage and her divorce: “I knew I would never, ever put myself in that position again – where I didn’t feel like I had the finances to be on my own, that I had to get the money through a divorce settlement,” she says. “I drummed that into (daughter), Ashley: Be independent, be independent. And my granddaughters –you have to be able to stand on your own two feet.”
On her effort to bring attention to the childcare crisis, which she has seen in her Zoom classes when she’d see students’ kids crawling through screen after screen: “I will keep talking about childcare and pushing childcare and hoping that we get it,” she says. “Families need it – not just women. I hear that all across America.”
Kahn interviewed Biden in the Green Room of the White House in the spring, with the Bidens’ German shepherd Commander snoozing in a corner. But she was photographed in the streets of Philadelphia, near where she grew up in the suburb of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
At one point, Biden walked the cobblestone streets barefoot, the magazine says. When a group of high school students on a field trip to the Museum of the American Revolution spotted her, she went over to greet them, asked about their college aspirations, and offered advice.