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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

First among Ladies

How do you think Michelle Obama feels? At this time last year, she was simply the wife of the man who (by that time) had not even clinched the Democratic nomination for the presidency. Now, she's the first lady. She seems to be handling the day to day stuff with aplomb. What's striking, though, is how she's become a de facto style icon. One can hardly log onto Yahoo! without getting an update on Mrs. O's wardrobe. Today the talk was on her hits and misses from her recent European trip. What did she wear?!? Was it chic? Tacky? Too revealing? Not revealing enough?

Has the press and the blogosphere stopped obsessing about the buffness of her arms yet?

The Solipsist is too young to have experienced it firsthand, but he wonders, Was this how people talked about Jackie Kennedy? And if so, what does this say about how far we've come? Let's face it, Jackie was a beautiful woman, and certainly intelligent and charming in her own right. But she was also, essentially, something of a prop. If she hadn't been married to John F. Kennedy, was she going to be some kind of high-powered career woman? Probably not.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, is an accomplished lawyer in her own right. As, of course, was another much ballyhooed recent first lady. And it is this that makes one wonder how she is feeling. Is she happy to be seen as a fashion plate? Does she feel that she is being condescended to? Or is she just trying to maintain the distance of her image from that of the more controversial Hillary?

In splitting the difference between Mrs. K. and Mrs. C., will Mrs. O. create a new model for first ladies to come?

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