Since she became First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama's fashion choices have been closely scrutinized and debated. But while we've argued the merits of mixed prints, kitten heels and other style minutiae, we never once doubted that First Lady Michelle Obama looked the part.
But in an interview last month, conducted at the American Legion's annual meeting in Indianapolis, Virginia voter Bobbie Lussier expressed her concerns to NPR's Ari Shapiro with the Obamas -- specifically, Mrs. O's appearance:
I just -- I don't like him. Can't stand to look at him. I don't like his wife. She's far from the first lady. It's about time we get a first lady in there that acts like a first lady, and looks like a first lady.
Shapiro happened to run into Lussier just yesterday at another Romney event, this time in Springfield, Virginia, allowing Lussier to clarify her previous comments. Shapiro probed Lussier, saying that last time "you said she doesn't look like a first lady. ..."
Lussier: "No, she doesn't. She doesn't look or act. I mean, can you imagine you know, Kennedys or the Bushes or anybody doing pushups on the floor? I mean you know. That's just not a first lady."
Shapiro: "A lot of people wondered if there was a racial undertone to your comments."
Lussier: "No, it's not. I don't care what color she is. It's just she just doesn't act and look like a first lady. I mean she's more about showing her arms off. ... I think that's very inappropriate for a lot of functions that she goes to."
Shapiro: "So do you mean it's an issue of modesty?"
Lussier: "Yeah. It's respect and ... for being in the White House."
Shapiro:"Fewer sleeveless dresses, fewer pushups ..."
Lussier: "They talk about more like her dresses and how she looks and stuff and her arms and whatever. [...] You see her walking around in shorts, and you know, just real casual wear. And to me ... I mean when I go to functions I kind of dress up other than today, but you just gotta look the part."
Whether you detect racial undertones or not (as many NPR listeners did), Lussier is circling back on the well-tread debate over whether Michelle Obama's bare arms, bared thighs and occasionally laidback demeanor are befitting of a first lady. The public debated Michelle's lack of sleeves in 2009, when the new first lady wore a sleeveless Narciso Rodriguez dress at the President's address to Congress, in her formal White House portrait and on the cover of People, among other places. The conclusion? No sleeves, no problem. First Ladies and their staffs have been going sleeveless for decades ("We wore sleeveless dresses all the time," Letitia Baldridge, Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary, told Bonnie Fuller.) Case closed.
As for the shorts, the first lady had a few tongues wagging when she was spotted on vacation in Arizona in 2010 wearing chino shorts that reached her mid-thigh. The "Today" show ran a segment titled, "First lady's fashions pushing the envelope?" And yet Michelle's vacation wardrobe, chosen to accomodate the intense heat of the Grand Canyon, was ultimately accepted (we polled HuffPost Style readers, 58.57 percent of whom thought the shorts were no big deal). After all, she was on vacation -- she's got plenty of skirts, dresses and pants for every other occasion and she knows when to wear them.
And as for the pushups? We're pretty sure it's acceptable for first ladies to exercise (as long as you don't drop and give your trainer 20 during the State of the Union address or start Dougie-ing during a state dinner).
Read the transcript of Shapiro's interview and let us know what you think -- do you see any problem with how Michelle Obama dresses?
See what Michelle Obama really wears in our FLOTUS fashion roundup:
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