Monday, April 6, 2009

Michelle Obama: The Barbie I Don't Want

As a working mother, I am perplexed and annoyed by the media's constant attendance to Michelle Obama's every fashion move. See here. And here. And here. Michelle Obama is an educated and, I assume, intelligent woman. She is the parent of young children with the ability and interest to use her position as First Lady to further important issues like literacy, child care for working women, and nutrition. But as far as the media is concerned, these issues are a distant second to weighty matters like whether "Michelle's" arms are bare or who designed the dress in which she met the Queen of England.

I know some regard fashion as high art and a useful pursuit. I'm not debating that here. What's troubling is the inattention to substantive issues in which Michelle Obama has expressed interest--issues that deeply affect the quality of American life--in favor of esoteric pursuits that only the rarefied few can afford (e.g., patronage of up and coming fashion designers and private trainers).

Although I first blamed the press on marginalizing Michelle Obama as a clothes horse and beauty queen, the Obama camp is as much to blame as anyone. See, for example, Michelle Obama's voluntary appearance on the cover of Vogue. I have to say, I am disillusioned and disappointed with this tack toward the superficial. I expected Ms. Obama--the product of Princeton and Harvard, a lawyer, a former health care executive, and an involved parent--to be a substantive and smart First Lady.

Instead, what I got was First Lady Barbie.

I've got no argument with taking care of one's appearance, but women who are attractive and well-dressed can still get a point across. What's happening with Ms. Obama is that her points aren't getting across. Instead, all we hear are silly quips about her Second Amendment "Right to Bare Arms" and fashion face-offs with Carla Bruni.

Please, Ms. Obama. Stop being sidelined and distracted by the media's rapt attention to your physical beauty and dedication to fashion. Take hold of this media train before it utterly marginalizes you and the working parents who counted on you for leadership. There's more to you than meets the eye, isn't there?

Isn't there?


Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

I agree! One female politician that I have a lot of respect for, addressed the issue on the day she was first elected. She said she was purchasing a series of conservative suits, that she would wear those and replace them with similar ones when they wore out, and that she would not tolerate the media commenting on her appearance. I think Michelle should send a similar message.

ashford Hughes said...
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ashford hughes said...
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