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Michelle Obama: A Political Body

Date: June 1, 2009 | Posted By:
Michelle Obama, showing off those famous guns.

Michelle Obama, showing off those famous guns.

From the moment the Obama family moved into the White House, our newest President and his wife became instant American icons. A beautiful and intelligent African-American couple, the Obamas exist under a social microscope with the media reporting on virtually every aspect of their lives.

In the midst of all the Obamamania, one of the most interesting news trends is the increasing interest in Michelle Obama, often subjecting her to a level of attention beyond the normal scrutiny reserved for a first lady.

Michelle Obama has essentially become public domain, with every aspect of her body up for discussion, from her clothing choices to her physical body itself.

The interest in Michelle’s clothing is like most relationships we have with public figures. There is a fun and escapist quality in watching her wardrobe choices. Mrs. Obama has a huge fashion following, often referred to as “the new Jackie O”, she inspires blogs that track her every outfit, and coffee table books celebrating her style. She makes headlines whether she’s wearing designer Narcisco Rodriguez or J. Crew, and even her penchant for sleeveless frocks inspires nationwide controversy.

Like the obsession with her wardrobe, the attention given to Michelle Obama’s body feels inspired by the public’s voyeurism (the press and public often critique the bodies of female celebrities), as well as a desire to be like Mrs. Obama. From Fitness Magazine to Glamour, magazines everywhere are promoting articles on “How to Get Michelle Obama’s Arms!” Very interesting. But what does this say about us?

Is it strange that the press is focusing so much on Mrs. Obama’s clothing and body, and rarely mentioning her other life accomplishments? Or are women simply inspired by an extraordinary first lady who always looks fantastic?

The desire to dress and look like Michelle Obama is understandable, she is a beautiful woman who promotes a healthy body image, which the public is clearly responding favorably to. But here are 4 facts about Mrs. Obama that get a little less press coverage:

  • Michelle was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
  • Michelle met Barack Obama when they were working at the same law firm, and she was assigned to mentor him.
  • She promised Barack that she would support his decision to run for President if he quit smoking.
  • She is a strong and down-to-earth mother who values her children remaining as normal as possible, keeping them involved in play dates, school, and sports activities.

Mrs. Obama’s body is something to be desired, but I would like to know that as many women are inspired to attend Ivy League schools, go to law school, support their husbands, and become strong mothers because of her example, too. Obviously, Michelle is truly a positive female role model, and the media should treat her as such…with or without those toned arms.

-Nikki




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