Jill Biden Harper's Bazaar cover: First time in magazine's 155-year history a First Lady has graced its cover

In the cover story, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden tells the world why she will never give up her teaching career and what "fexting" is

Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
(Image credit: Brian Cahn/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News)

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden graces the cover of Harper’s Bazaar’s June/July issue, effectively becoming the first ever First Lady to appear on the cover of the magazine in its 155-year history. That is, indeed, a huge deal.

The contents of the article, written by Mattie Kahn, are also fascinating. Although, in the past, Jill and Joe Biden have revealed marriage is "harder" in the White House, the First Lady has never been this candid about her relationship with the President. In the piece, she also discusses her previous divorce and her steadfast devotion to her teaching career while sharing personal anecdotes about life in the White House and beyond.

One of the main takeaways from the article involves Jill's reliance on herself as a woman. While opening up about her first, five-year marriage to Bill Stevenson, a former college football player, the First Lady admitted feeling lost following the divorce. 

"I understand a woman's need to have something for herself," she says in the story, specifically addressing the financial struggles she's had to face. "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. ... I drummed that into [my daughter], Ashley: Be independent, be independent. And my granddaughters, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet."

That disposition is probably why Jill sets an early alarm each morning to have some time for herself before the day begins. It's also why she has no intention of giving up her teaching career.

Jill, in fact, commutes from the White House to Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria twice a week to teach English and writing classes. 

Of course, juggling her position as the First Lady and her day job proves to be a daunting task, but it is one that Jill is certainly not scared of. "Even as a Senate spouse, I was working, going to grad school, doing campaign events, raising kids," she says. "That's the feeling I get. You're exhausted. You just do it."

Speaking of the political aspect of her life, Jill also took the time to address the issues that she holds dearest, including cancer research, the country's childcare crisis and her support for military families.

As for her relationship with the President, Jill seemed to have the same prospects and concerns as any wife would, despite their clearly high-profile marriage. 

"I try to be a support for Joe, because I don't know how many people are saying to him, 'That was great. That was brilliant,'" she said. "I try to be that person for him."

That being said, the two obviously disagree at times... but happen to handle discussions a bit differently than the average couple would. Jill reveals that, sometimes, her and Joe argue over text in order not to fight in front of the Secret Service that's constantly surrounding them. They cheekily call that form of communication "fexting." 

Although some social media users took to Instagram to criticize Harper's Bazaar's choice and profess their dislike for Jill, others made it a point to praise both the magazine and the subject .

“So darn comforting knowing there’s a First Lady with class and intelligence! So refreshing,” one user wrote.

“Sheer elegance. A self- accomplished woman who is still teaching!! 👏👏,” another commented.

It’s important to note that, although plenty of people have been calling out the publication for indirectly inserting itself in discussions about partisan politics, an official statement about the latest issue of the magazine suggests otherwise. In it, editor in chief Samira Nasr makes it clear that the cover selection is not meant, "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."

Anna Rahmanan

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.