Within my life I’ve come across a few iconic women who not only inspire me but completely shock me. Their tenacity, their spirit, their tragedies, their triumphs. I celebrate these women in my off-time by reading various biographies, viewing their documentaries and occasionally googling them. I follow them like a kid with a crush because every now and then, being a woman myself, I need a pick-me-up. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is one of those women for me and there is a long list of why’s. I’ll save you from hearing all of them, primarily I look up to her for her ability to stand tall and proud even when she was placed within the mouth of adversity. The life of politics and corruption that enveloped her life never faded her strength and grace when viewed by the public. At times, she was more warmly regarded then her husband, the president. In fact, to an overwhelming ovation that had just been received by Jacqueline, in Texas 1963, John Kennedy remarked, “2 years ago I introduced myself in Paris by saying that I was the man who had accompanied Mrs. Kennedy, I’m getting somewhat that same sensation as I travel around Texas . . .Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear.” Yes, she was an icon, to many then as well as now and especially to me. So I wanted to share one of my favorite photographs of her. This photograph is pre-Kennedy, when she worked as a photographer and journalist for the Washington Herald Post.
The first time I came across this shot, it truly hit home with me not just because I’m a photographer myself but because I suddenly felt that I could relate to her. It is a side of her that is rarely viewed. We mainly remember her from the white house, as the first lady but here we see her as a young, single woman, fighting her way through Washington, trying to make a mark within the restrictive walls of the 1950’s. Jacqueline’s first job, at the age of 23, was acquired in 1951 at the Washington Times Herald, where she worked as a photographer and reporter for the column “The Inquiring Camera Girl.” She was paid $42.50 per week and her job entailed roaming the city asking questions; documenting opinions to a variety of hot-topics. She photographed everyone she interviewed and then later stitched it all together into a cohesive article. Among those she interviewed were Richard M. Nixon, the first inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. She worked at the paper for a few years and then married JFK in 1953, where her world changed dramatically from there on.
Who knew right? I didn’t at first. It took me a few documentaries before finding this. If you’d like to read more on her, I just discovered a new book that seems to be a huge hit. It’s an Autobiography through books called: “Reading Jackie.” “She never wrote a memoir, but she told her life story and revealed herself in intimate ways through the nearly 100 books she brought into print during the last two decades of her life as an editor at Viking and Doubleday.” I hear it’s a riveting read and I’ve already ordered my own copy.
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