DALLAS — If there’s one thing Laura Bush wants you to know about being a first lady of the United States, it’s that far more goes into it than just hosting events and dressing well.

The Dallas Morning News reports in fact, she’s dedicated an entire exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum to showcase the impact first ladies have had on U.S. politics, policy and the White House.

“The idea really is that it’s more than just fashion, the beautiful gowns that first ladies wear to state dinners or whatever,” she said. “First ladies have a very active role in policy and they have since the beginning.”

Some articles of clothing are featured in the new “First Ladies: Style of Influence” exhibit — like the uniform Lou Henry Hoover wore as national president of the Girl Scouts and a black velvet evening gown worn by Eleanor Roosevelt — but the walk-through primarily features what first ladies accomplished while their husbands were in office.

Laura Bush was candid about her own time in the White House as she recently walked through the exhibit, which opened to the public this month.

“I had the advantage no other first lady had. I knew a first lady very well and I watched her for four years,” she said, pointing to a painted portrait of her mother-in-law, Barbara Bush. “Without really giving me advice, she advised me with her life.”

But even her familiarity with the demands of the job couldn’t prepare her for what her own role would eventually become.

When 9/11 happened, “everything changed,” she said. “I then became comforter-in-chief.”

The attacks also pushed her even further into the international sphere, an area she said she wasn’t expecting to venture so far into during her time in the White House.

“After Sept. 11, when the spotlight turned on Afghanistan, I found a role that I didn’t expect,” she said.

She became an outspoken advocate of women in Afghanistan and served as honorary chair of the U.S. Afghan Women’s Council.

“And that continues today, continuing to work with women in Afghanistan and women in the Middle East,” she said.

The exhibit runs through Oct. 1.

Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Dallas Morning News

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