There’s no way for me to write about the First Lady without gushing so I’m not even gonna try. I think she’s fabulous. I love how intelligent she is, and how tough. I love that speech she gave at the Democratic National Convention, and I really love that she wrote it herself. I love the little glimpses we get of her relationship with the President, and I love that they have raised a pair of smart, well-adjusted kids. Whenever I read anything by her or hear her talk, I always can’t help but beam with pride.
And yes, I really admire her fashion sense, too. I’m not ashamed to admit that I gasped when she walked on stage wearing that pink-silvery halter dress. Revoke my Official Feminist Credentials if you must, but the lady looked smashing.
The way my grandparents maybe felt about Jackie Kennedy is the way I feel about Michelle Obama. I’m clearly not the only one, as she’s one of the most popular public figures in the U.S. these days. It’s a long way since the days of the so-called “terrorist fist bump,” don’t you think? (Do I have to point out how excellent it is that a black woman is occupying this position in our society? Well, I will. While I don’t want to minimize the fact that racism remains a serious issue in our society, I also think this is one of those times where I can’t help but go, “Holy shit, the First Lady is black! The President is black! Holy shit!” It’s a reminder that progress does happen, even if it’s frustratingly slow.)
At the end of Obama’s fantastic DNC speech, she referred to herself at the “Mom-in-Chief” – which, by the way, read this if you are one of the people (and there are a lot of you) who took issue with that statement – but I would like to ask that she consider another title as well: “Athlete-in-Chief.” After all, has there ever been another First Lady who is so athletic and proud of it? Who flaunts her hard-earned biceps with such style and elegance? Who seems as comfortable doing push-ups as she is at state dinners?
As a fitness junkie, I love that she’s out there promoting healthy living and eating among kids. I think it’s awesome that her rise in the public sphere was followed by an equal rise in articles about the “Michelle Obama Arm Workout,” and in the process showing U.S. women that Big is Beautiful, especially when it comes to Biceps. I love that she talks about how she doesn’t do calorie-counting or diets and that she likes to lift weights.
Not everyone agrees with my perspective. I once read a letter to the editor in Oxygen magazine that actually criticized the fact that Obama has been held up as a fitness role model, saying that it’s a disgrace because she had “too much body fat” or some such nonsense. When the publisher of the magazine wrote that he agreed with the letter-writer, I knew that was the end of my relationship with that magazine, and I haven’t bought an issue since.
The kind of sacrifices, single-minded intensity and physical ability required to develop a fitness model’s physique are out of the reach of most women – myself included – and so I think we’re all much better served by realistic role models who show that it’s possible to get fit and healthy while still managing to have a career and a family, instead of spending all our time weighing chicken breasts and working on our triceps, you know?
That’s one of the things I like about Obama: she puts out an idea of fitness that sees it as a means to having a more fulfilling life. Fitness as a hobby is cool for some of us, but most of us just don’t roll that way, and those of us who aren’t obsessed with developing the perfect six-pack need fitness role models too.
Check out this quote from a column she wrote for Woman’s Day:
“Being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline—and we can’t afford to think that way. Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.