It seems that a lot of media coverage of Michelle Obama we have all experienced surrounds her physicality, first and foremost. She’s either a fashion plate, or bare-armed and aggressive. Second, media coverage that isn’t focused on her clothing or visible limbs centers on her image as a mother and wife. In this context, she is inevitably portrayed as very devoted to her children and husband, making no Hillary-esque forays to the floor of Congress but instead engaging in charities and other more traditional first-lady fare.

This is odd for a woman who is a high-ranking, intelligent, and successful Harvard-educated lawyer. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama never failed the bar exam and chose to marry a professor not an up-and-coming politician whose influence could be peddled. Michelle Obama is definitely a very respectable figure from the standpoint of anyone who sees in communities of color a crisis of opportunity, success, and societal acceptance.

My question – is Michelle Obama deliberately being produced in mass media as a traditional wife figure in order to:

  • Avoid the Clinton-era pitfalls of a national debate surrounding a "co-president" in pantsuits?
  • Create her as a role model for healthy, functional black families, given that so much crisis exists in black families nationwide?

Or could it be that she has a lot more involvement and political weight "behind the scenes" than we are aware? It’s amazing to me that a black woman who has become first lady (after her high-flying law career) would not be encouraged in particular by liberal/left observers to much more involved and aggressive in the political world.

Or could it be that the focus on her physicality (her height, her arms, her figure, etc.) is actually a manifestation of the white American fear of black physical power and strength? Perhaps the white mass media is shocked by the sight of her arms because first ladies don’t do that and in her case there is a tall, strong, black woman baring relatively toned arms and having a toned, strong figure.

What do you think about all this? I find Michelle Obama and intriguing figure, as I’ve described above.

Seymour Friendly

Seymour Friendly

Quasi-leftist Seattle resident, which is kind of like saying "wet rain". There ain't no dry kind of rain ...