Once you can express yourself, you can tell the world what you want from it. . . All the changes in the world, for good or evil, were first brought about by words.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Today marks what would have been Jackie Kennedy’s 88th birthday. This remarkable woman taught us so much through her amazing life and accomplishments. Kennedy was best known for being a student, editor, brave wife, mother, cultural guru, and style icon (if you don’t already dress like her, we have different tastes).

“When a woman is glamorous, it often stops there. With Jackie, it stopped with her big sunglasses and jet-setting image. But there were a lot of brains under that pillbox hat,” said Tina Santi Jackie Kennedy Onassis was an excellent role model, and her life can teach us many lessons, as author Flaherty discusses in his book What Jackie Taught Us. “Jackie laid out a remarkable road map for achievement. And if any one of us were to follow some of the things that she did, we could undoubtedly improve our own lives.” The former First Lady possesses many admirable qualities, some of which we can all try to emulate in our own lives.

1. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s Vision Was to Enrich the Lives of Others

Jackie loved experiencing different cultures. “Before Jackie, America wasn’t thought of as particularly sophisticated in literature, poetry, music, or art. We had it all along. We just had no one to showcase it. But Jackie did those magical White House evenings that let the world know America didn’t have to take second place to anyone,” Flaherty said. Jackie was also a supporter of many associations, such as the American Association of Maternal and Infant Health, the American Cancer Society, and the Girl Scouts organization.

2. She Always Made Sure to Make People Feel Special and Valued.

Flaherty describes Jackie as an expert at something he called the “lighthouse look.” He went on to say, “She perfected the lighthouse look. She could not only lock eyes with you, but she also could lock into your mind.”

3. She Was an Avid Reader

a person is reading a book

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis loved reading, and her passion eventually led her to become an editor. During her time as First Lady, she also took it upon herself to improve the offerings of the White House Library. She wanted the library to have a comprehensive collection of American literature and history, so she asked a committee of scholars to choose 1500 significant works. By making this list public, she gave all Americans access to it.

4. Her Style

More than just a style icon, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was an advocate for fashion as an art form. “Most Americans had a sort of knee-jerk reaction, fashion was elitist, decadent,” Valerie Steele, fashion historian, and director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology told ABC News. “What she did was give a positive spin to fashion.”

5. She Launched a Career in Her 40s

After her husband Aristotle Onassis died in 1975, she became an editor at Viking Press, then Doubleday. The Vassar-educated reader enjoyed the job and found it fulfilling. Some were slightly confused as to why this very rich woman wanted to work a 9-to-5 job, but Onassis continued to do it despite questioning. She once said, “If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life.” By the time of her death in 1994, Jackie had edited nearly 100 books. Biographer David Stenn wrote that Jackie Onassis “cultivated authors, not subjects. She nurtured them and thought long-term.”

6. She Wrote Great Letters

While there was no email back then, Jackie still excelled at writing letters. She wrote beautiful thank-you notes, but also letters that moved people to action. In 1987, to prevent developer Mort Zuckerman from building a structure that would have obstructed the view in Columbus Circle in New York, she eloquently wrote, “They’re stealing our sky!”

Jackie Kennedy was one of the most influential women in society. What is your favorite contribution that she made? Let us know in the comments! Then check out what our Levo mentor, Kate White, has to say about how Jackie Kennedy influenced her life and career.

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