Michelle Obama, you are the coolest. You’re brilliant and super hot and basically an all around super star. I will read pretty much any newspaper article or blog post that mentions your name. I will stare at pictures of you and pretend that we are best friends. I GET IT. You are fabulous and you always look fabulous.
Inauguration day brought a wave of tweets and Facebook posts that dominated my feed. Everyone on the internet was talking about the first black president being sworn into his second term on MLK day. I was feeling the excitement from Washington all the way in Northern Michigan. And then…then I realized many of those tweets and blog posts weren’t even discussing the historic event of a president beginning a new term of office. They were talking about clothes.
I’m going to be honest and let you know that the first mention of inauguration day fashions on Twitter made me think “YES. YES I DO WANT TO KNOW ALL ABOUT THAT.” And then I found myself clicking through several photo galleries that showcased Michelle’s navy checkered silk jacket, and the J. Crew and Kate Spade New York fashions sported by Sasha and Malia. But do you know what I wasn’t doing in those moments? I wasn’t reading through President Obama’s inauguration speech. I wasn’t rejoicing about the fact that for at least the next four years, we have a president who is willing to be an advocate for a woman’s right to choose or a human being’s right to love (and MARRY!) whomever they please. I wasn’t thinking anything at all except “OH HEY THAT IS PRETTY,” until again I realized I wasn’t finding any articles focused on the cut of Barack’s suit or the color of Joe Biden’s tie or the brand of gloves any other male politician in attendance that day was wearing.
Around 9:15 on Monday night, CNN Breaking News tweeted:
“Mystery solved! Michelle Obama is wearing a red gown from Jason Wu.”
THAT was the great mystery of today? Not, how do we solve our country’s severe economic problems? Not, how can we work towards a more peaceful world? Not, how might we go about our days with a more environmentally conscious presence? Not, how do we provide food and shelter and healthcare and other basic human rights to every human being?
NPR blogged here about the FLOTUS’s past fashion choices, her love of belts, Jason Wu, Thom Browne, and shopping online like every other American. The post anticlimactically ended with the statement that “It’s not clear which designer the president chose to wear.” The great fashion mystery isn’t what Michelle was wearing but who designed what Barack pulled out of the closet that morning.
The Washington Post had a little bit more to say about the president’s attire, but not nearly enough to satisfy:
“Obama wore a blue tie with his white shirt, dark suit and overcoat.”
How appalling. The absence of a compelling yet cheesy adjective to describe the shade of blue is down right disappointing! I was expecting something really regal, like…like…presidential blue. Nope! Just blue.
Am I supposed to rejoice because-for once-there is more attention on the ladies in Washington than on the men? That’s so hilarious, it’s stupid. Because Michelle was getting attention for all the wrong reasons. So were Sasha and Malia and even Dr. Jill Biden. I’m not denying they looked beautiful, and I’m not denying that fashions worn by influential women can shape the latest trends. I’m also not denying that what the FLOTUS wears is intriguing information, a bit of a guilty pleasure for all of us. What I am saying is that the amount of media coverage, hype, anticipation, criticism and praise focused on something so trivial is simply uncalled for. Oh, and did I mention blatantly one sided? How simple would it be to just release a statement that says:
“HEY WORLD. Michelle is rocking Designer Fancypants and Barack is going to wear something by another designer who makes suits that look like every other suit ever made!” And maybe there could be a diagram with arrows pointing to really specific, really unimportant details, or criticizing the way Michelle’s dress fits and commenting on the hideous shade of the president’s tie. I’m just asking that if we focus on female fashions, let’s at least try to comment on the men as well. Maybe then it would at least appear like what the women wore and how well they looked standing next to their husbands isn’t the only thing that matters.
In other, just as compelling news: Michelle got bangs. HOLD UP. This isn’t just another Hillary headband type discussion. This time, because our first lady also happens to be a black woman, there are so many other racial, historical, and inevitably controversial issues that accompany the topic. Thankfully (I’m going to say something positive here. It will be brief. Don’t miss it!) it seems that-so far-the comments on The Bangs have been generally non-racial. On the other hand, Michelle’s hair also tends to fit the white beauty standard of being silky and shiny and straight. What would everyone have to say if she decided to sport an Afro or other natural look? I’m no expert on hair. ‘Black’ hair, ‘white’ hair, or any other type of hair, though I did see Chris Rock’s Good Hair documentary, and that has to count for something. History shows that society simply isn’t willing to accept that-GASP-not everyone’s hair looks the same. Dare I mention the utterly ridiculous Gabby Douglas hair debate? Perhaps we should drop the subject of hair and clothes altogether and realize that women are more than their looks and want, first and foremost, to be recognized for their accomplishments (and not the fact that they did something IN SPITE of being a woman. Just that they DID it.) Is that so much to ask?