American Icon: Jackie O

Jackie Kennedy Onasis as a Mother

There’s a famous black and white photo of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis from 1960 reading a book to her daughter Caroline before bed.

As in many of the photos, Jacqueline looks beautiful. But there’s a deeper aesthetic to this one. It’s simple, but powerful all at once. Here’s a mother doting on her child, playing the part of a parent, but also an educator, role model and caregiver.

Isn’t this how we should think of our mothers? They are the nurturing hand that guide us from birth through childhood until we become adults. And even then, we look to our mothers for direction, support and love.

As the mother of four children – Caroline and John; one who was stillborn; and another, Patrick, who died two days after birth – Jacqueline provided this for her family.

But she was more than that as her daughter notes in this Mother’s Day video:

Perhaps no first lady represented the shift of women from old fashioned mores to current ones where they can be not only heads of family, but heads of industry.

And she was able to achieve this with an elegance like no other. This was on full display after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963.

She was driven, with a work ethic that belied her appearance; her exhaustive, one-year redecoration of the White House was one example of this principle.

Not Just a Pretty Face

In later years, following the death of her second husband Aristotle Onassis, she took a job as a book editor, first at Viking and then at Doubleday. It is here where she found peace, using her mind to show that she was much more than just a pretty face.

In a written essay for Ms. magazine published in 1979, Jacqueline described the importance of women finding work that is fulfilling: “You have to do something you enjoy. That is the definition of happiness: ‘complete use of one’s faculties along the lines leading to excellence in life affording them scope.”

There was a true depth to Jacqueline that we should all celebrate. She is emblematic of many of our mothers, more than just a simple title. On Mother’s Day, Jacqueline serves as a reminder of the importance of those who raise us; they are vital not only in the home, but in society.

Of course, no celebration of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis would be complete without referencing her style. And that included her trademark round, oversized sunglasses, the perfect fit for one as graceful as her. If you want your mom to emulate the grace of Jacqueline, then you’ll want to check out our line of Coach sunglasses as well as these Lilly Pulitzer Paytons.

Words of an Icon: “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis