08/02/2012 10:36 am ET Updated Oct 02, 2012

Michelle Obama, Ann Romney and the Myth of the Media Double Standard

Michelle Obama sparked a major media controversy for her choice of attire for an encounter with Queen Elizabeth. The outfit has been dubbed "a disaster," and "a major misstep."

If you think I'm referring to this week's headlines about the First Lady's $6800 jacket, worn to an Olympic reception at Buckingham Palace, you'd be wrong. That's what some critics said about the First Lady's outfit the first time she met Queen Elizabeth. Only while this time around she's being lambasted for wearing an ensemble that was too over the top -- in terms of price at least -- last time she was lambasted for being too dressed down.

The woman can't seem to win.

Yet conservative media outlets are already attempting to construct a new media narrative, namely that while the mainstream media unfairly targeted Ann Romney for her $990 shirt, the First Lady has essentially been given a free pass regarding her fashion choices. She's fashion Barbie to Ann Romney's much-maligned Skipper doll.

There's just one problem: that's not entirely true. While the First Lady may have gotten high marks in some corners for this particular jacket and other looks, her appearance and attire has been endlessly scrutinized and criticized since her husband took the oath of office. An entire article in the Washington Post was devoted to criticizing the First Lady's choice to wear shorts. (No, I'm not kidding.) That article spawned countless other articles, blog posts and backlash, finally culminating in a poll
asking Americans if it is okay for her to wear shorts. Then there was her controversial Alexander McQueen dress, which everyone seemed to have an opinion on -- many of those opinions not particularly positive.

The core of the conservative argument in crying foul about the First Lady being praised for her expensive outfit while Ann Romney was pilloried seems to consist primarily of "it's not fair." (I think I've heard this same argument used a few times before, usually on my childhood playground.)

Click here to continue reading.

Keli Goff is the author of The GQ Candidate and a Contributing Editor for where this post originally appears today.