The position of first lady has always fascinated me. The opportunity to champion non-controversial causes, raise money for worthy charities and visit with dignitaries at events is appealing. It's a role that I have envisioned myself in; if I am honest about one of my daydreams. The problem, being first lady is inextricably linked to being married to a sitting mayor, governor, or president. Considering the ups and downs in politics the calculation is too risky for my palate. I would not want my position in life to depend solely upon my relationship with a man. To be first lady is a dream for many young women. Aspiring to be like First Lady Michelle Obama has made it more of a reality. Michelle Obama is married to the leader of the free world, but it is her intelligence, style and elegance that make her the subject of admiration. Mrs. Obama is well rounded; she has her own challenges and accomplishments. Michelle Obama is a tangible role model who has the power to inspire women throughout the world to become the "first lady" in their own lives.
A year ago Michelle Obama's detractor's attempted to pigeon hole her into the caricature of "the angry black woman". Today, she is an American icon who is admired around the world. Her image as an educated, athletic, fashion forward, feminine woman is very different from the stereotypical images of U.S black women that are often exported. Mrs. Obama's persona is not like the guests that often appear on the Maury Povich Show. Michelle Obama is the new face of the black American woman and the world has noticed. The international attention that Mrs. Obama has captured is exciting. In her own way she has helped to restore some of America's soft power, which was diminished by the previous administration. A female African American friend of mine recently vacationed in Asia. She reported that she was often referred to there as "Lady Obama". Mrs. Obama has proven to be an excellent role model for women around the world. Particularly, women of color who are discriminated against because of their dark skin and coarse hair.
The universal elevation of Michelle Obama has helped women to see themselves in her and to recognize their own strength and potential. John Blake of CNN.com recently wrote about Mrs. Obama's international appeal in an article called "Why Michelle Obama inspires women around the globe." Blake talked about the new message that impoverished Indian women are receiving due to the positive attention that Michelle Obama has gotten. The women referenced in the article are considered unattractive because of their dark skin and hair, and are "cursed" if they only have daughters. In Michelle Obama they see a woman who has dark skin and coarse hair but is praised for her style and beauty. "She walks next to her husband in public, not behind. And she has two daughters. But no one calls her cursed. They call her Michelle Obama, the first lady." By all indications Mrs. Obama feels blessed, not cursed by her two daughters, Sasha and Malia. She has spoken of many projects that she intends to pursue during her tenure in the White House, but she has said that her top priority is to be "Mom-in-Chief".
It is the "Mom-in-Chief" demeanor of our first lady that has created a demand for her trademark hugs. Michelle Obama's most enviable quality is the magnetic energy that she creates when she walks into a room. She has shown that reaching out to others is important by being inclusive and personally welcoming visitors into the White House. In short order, the Obama's have brought a youthful, sociable and yes, fashionable presence to Washington D.C. Author Jane Stanton Hitchcock states it best in May's Vogue by saying that "Michelle Obama is proving there is nothing wrong- in fact there is something right about being youthful, chic and serious." Yes, it is possible to enjoy the parties, and also be passionate about the substantive issues of life.
We cannot all attend state dinners or have tea with the Queen, but there are many aspects of Mrs. Obama's first lady life that all women can be inspired by and emulate.
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