She took the stage with the utmost confidence, even with hundreds of eyes glued to her every movement and the pressure looming behind her. I couldn't help but gape in awe as Michelle Obama took the stage in the recent Democratic National Convention. No matter your political affiliation, there's no doubt that First Lady Michelle Obama is the epitome of class and feminism.
I'm a 16-year-old high school junior who gets easily distracted by entertainment and immersed in pop culture gossip. And yes, I'm a Justin Bieber fan. Call me the stereotypical teenager. Like most, although we won't ever admit it, I secretly dream of becoming a celebrity, because in all honesty, what can be better? A generation in which Rihanna and Nicki Minaj are the faces I'm surrounded by, I can't help but find myself compelled to look up to them.
But looking at Michelle Obama at the convention, things became different. With my eyes glued to her enthusiasm and the emotion in her speech, I found myself in an odd spot. A little voice in my head was jealous. Jealous because she was so powerful to the extent that she was able to compel a room of hundreds of people to attentively listen to her every word. Jealous because she is the true embodiment of female independence. Her husband is the president of the United States, and yet she reigns in popularity, fighting for issues on her own, finding ways to solve them on her own. Whether it's her Let's Move! campaign that inspires kids to become active and maintain healthy lifestyles in order to suppress growing obesity rates or her veterans' initiatives, such as the creation of the Joining Forces -- which helps veterans find employment after returning from deployment -- she's created a sense of change, created entirely on her own.
I was jealous because Michelle Obama is an intelligent and ingenious Ivy League graduate who did it on her own. Her story is so much like my own. And she wasn't one of the few lucky performers or actors or singers who found her big break before high school. No, she's the product of what everyone tries to instill in us but fails to. She was a hardworking kid who studied and went to college determined to succeed.
And at that moment, I realized that I wanted to be her or anything that came close to her. With the screams and chants of her name interrupting her speech every few words, you could feel, see and hear the power she emanated, and most importantly, the respect the crowd had for her. Her words were eloquently spoken without hesitation. Yeah, Rihanna's music is great, and Nicki Minaj's raps can easily get stuck in your head, but they aren't the world's greatest role models. It's sad that the only major role models in our society today, especially for teenagers, are the faces in People Magazine and TMZ -- half of which dropped out after high school, giving millions of teenagers the false hope that they can become like them, too.
But, I'm proud -- ecstatic, really -- that there are also people who get recognized because they succeeded educationally, because they help out for the common good and they're still fashion icons. After her speech at the DNC, I couldn't help but smile seeing all of the girls tweeting about her. Sure, a few were about her outfit (which was gorgeous!) but a handful recognized the importance of her iconic status.
She was a different kind of role model, a different kind of dream, that slowly made a place in their minds. She's a women that will one day hopefully inspire us to do the exact same thing.