If you type "Michelle Obama style" into Google, 209,000,000 results come up. If you type in "Michelle Obama education," 183,000,000 results come up. This says a lot about our cultural obsession with fashion and celebrity.
The Wall Street Journal called Michelle Obama "her generation's most impactful fashion muse." Retailer White House | Black Market introduced a limited-edition "inaugural-inspired" dress collection of nine beaded gowns and cocktail-length dresses this month. The Gemological Institute of America predicted that she will wear emeralds to the inauguration because it is the color of the year. Newspapers and newscasters from "The Today Show" to E! waited with bated breath for that first glimpse of her inaugural outfit. I don't think the actual election got this much coverage! There is no doubt that we have not seen this kind of inspiring and exciting fashion since Jackie Kennedy,but today, is it possible for us to focus on Michelle the Accomplished Woman and not Michelle the Style Icon?
Yes, it is a lot more fun to try to figure out what shade of gray nail polish Michelle wore to the convention. After her speech at the DNC, "The Today Show," U.S. News and World Report and The New Republic all analyzed the color. Jezebel wrote an editorial about it. Or what about when she and Ann Romney wore the same shade of pink at the debates? That was international news.
Michelle has received so much attention for her style because unlike former first ladies, she wears clothes that are actually attainable and affordable -- she basically has perfected "high-low" dressing. (Let's just say J.Crew owes her a lot.)
But there's plenty more to the woman than what she wears. Here's a look at some of the things we should be focusing on instead of her (admittedly fabulous) ensemble and edgy new bangs:
Let's not forget that Michelle Obama is a graduate of Princeton (where she wasn't afraid to tell her French professors they were teaching it wrong) and is one of only four first ladies to hold a graduate degree -- and from Harvard Law, mind you. (The others are Pat Nixon, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.)
Michelle kept working during her husband's 2008 campaign. "I joke that I stick with the job because it covers my insurance, but the reality is that my career has always been very important to me," she told Glamour. Should we be surprised, considering this woman once brought then newborn Sasha to a job interview? She told People: "I didn't have a babysitter. So I went in there with the stroller and did the interview. And Sasha slept through it, thank goodness."
Not surprisingly, Michelle got the job.
Her Work as First Lady
Or what about her amazing work with the Let's Move! campaign, which tackles the issues of childhood obesity and nutrition? She told Good Housekeeping, "This is one of those issues that has no party. It has no race. It has no socioeconomic boundaries. This is about our kids."
She also told Glamour: "People have notions of what a wife's role should be in [the first family], and it's been a traditional one of blind adoration. My model is a little different -- I think most real marriages are."
Her Work-Life Balance Approach
In 2008, she told Ladies Home Journal:
Finding balance has been the struggle of my life and my marriage, in being a woman, being a professional, being a mother. And Barack has to find that balance, too, as part of the family. What women have the power to do, through our own experiences, is to push that balance out into the culture. If people are happier, and they're more engaged, and they have jobs they can value that allow them to respect and value their homes, that makes the home life stronger.
Her Support for Women
Michelle hosted a White House dinner to support mentoring programs for young girls, encouraging them to break the glass ceiling. She told the crowd:
Once you see somebody on TV it looks like it's easy, but the truth is we only know many of these women once they've become famous, once they're in the news. Faith and love and hard work -- that's what got us through. You don't need money or connections. The question is, do you let that fear stop you?"
Being a Mother and a Good Friend
Whenever Michelle talks about her daughters, you can see that she is trying to raise them in the most normal way possible to help keep them grounded. She also seems like she would be a great friend to have (and not just because we could go to cool places). At the National Mentoring Summit in 2011, she said: "We should always have three friends in our lives -- one who walks ahead who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we've cleared the way."
How do you feel about the constant focus on Michelle Obama's style? Tell us in the comments!
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