Being a First Lady is hard work, and it’s a role that’s often the target of unfounded, heavy criticism…especially for the first African-American First Lady. Michelle Obama has been treated poorly by media on both the right and the left. While right-wing racist nutjobs help perpetuate stereotypes about the “angry black woman” in the White House, lefties haven’t given her much tangible credit, either. She’s often reduced in the media to the role of fashion icon and beauty trend-setter. When searching for quotes about our wonderful FLOTUS, I found more articles on her choice of haircuts and dresses than her push towards healthy eating or her work with the impoverished in DC, which is something she’s quite well-known for in our region.
Despite the hype, the stereotypes, and the focus on her dresses and hairstyle, Michelle Obama’s role in our society is far more complex than eye-candy for the masses or the woman to look to for generic relationship advice. (Yes, many interviewers have asked her the typical misogynist question: “How did you land such a great husband?”)
Michelle Obama’s focus on changing the nutrition of the nation has met with lot of scorn and eye-rolling from civil libertarians that love to fear-monger that she’ll take the Bloomberg route and ban sodas for all. The Let’s Move initiative, luckily, isn’t stealing freedom from anybody. Instead, it’s empowering students (especially low-income kids who get free lunches) to learn about healthy food choices and the value of exercise to their well-being. Our addiction to fast food and resistance to exercise and outdoor activity starts at a very early age. She’s tackling that problem at the root.
Of all the causes First Ladies have tried to tackle, Michelle Obama’s wellness initiatives may be the most difficult fights to date: Americans are addicted to fast, low-nutrient, high-calorie foods, and the culture of that lifestyle is entrenched in eating what tastes good and ignoring the reality of obesity. She ignores the critics and continues to focus on the young generations. Kids are growing up with a different relationship with food, one that focuses on health and nutrients, whether their parents choose to change their lifestyles or not.
Our First Lady inspires students, parents, and educators around the country and around the world. Michelle Obama is a powerful role model for young women. Here are some highlights that showcase her leadership:
Quote slide show of our FLOTUS:
Michelle Obama gives pre-debate advice and talks about what it was like to spend her wedding anniversary at the Obama-Romney debate.
Michelle Obama talks about meeting Nelson Mandela.
Our FLOTUS’s passionate advice at a commencement speech.
Michelle Obama on The American Dream.
Our FLOTUS talks about failure:
- Carney: FLOTUS handled heckler ‘brilliantly’ (politico.com)
- White privilege, black blaming, and dissing the first lady (dailykos.com)