Michelle Obama, reaching parts other First Ladies could not reach.
As we enter the final days of the current Presidency of Barak Obama, I find myself reflecting not just on him, but on just how important his wife, The First Lady, Michelle Obama has been to us all during his reign.
Barack Obama is not my President, I reside in the UK, Michelle Obama is not my First Lady, as this is a position we do not really have here. However, I think I, like most of the world have always considered them as ours because of their symbolic value not just for the US, but the world at a time of great uncertainty they offered us all hope. m Perhaps it is the fact that they chartered the ship which is the largest Super Power in the world, the USA which gives them this global reach. The expression, when America sneezes, we all catch colds, perhaps is more apt than we often give it credit for.
The Obama’s gave us all, on a global scale something the world needed so badly at the time, which was hope, they gave us the promise of change, of better things to come, not just for the people of America, but the world. Despite the many arguments I’ve heard of US politics about what has or hasn’t been achieved, for the rest of us, from the outside, a Black man and a Black woman have been in charge, they have been in the top positions in the US, if not on a global scale, in a country that just…..years prior would not permit a black person to sit on a bus with a white person or in a class at school. This was the change, this was the progress that this in itself could ever happen. There was suddenly hope for us all.
The world still has racism, the world still had many great troubles, but the leading country in the world put a Black Man on it’s throne and his wife, Michelle as his Queen by his side, you in America call this position The First Lady. Martin Luther King’s speech, ” I have a dream….” did he dare to ever dream that black children would run through the halls of the White House, because this was in fact their home, the place their father had been elected to run, not just once but twice.
I cannot say I know enough of the in’s and out’s of the daily politics of the US to be affected by Michelle Obama in that way totally. But what she does signify, every time I have seen her, heard her, is a powerful woman first, a powerful woman of colour second. Her husband is the President, but Michelle very much has played a significant part in capturing the hearts, minds and interess of the world. She has a voice, she is confident and very able to stand tall, stand out, deliver. Everything she says, every speech, she delivers with such conviction, and poise, such clarity of her position on things. She comes cross as a no nonsense woman, not afraid to tell how it is, give her opinion and come for you on the stage with one killer comment that ends you..with even calling you by name.
As a female, influenced by females, especially from a retail perspective what did I get from Michelle Obama? Michelle doesn’t play it safe. I don’t get the feeling that someone said to her once .”this colour really works for you” and then she just pretty much stuck to it as her safe colour or cut or style. No, I get the vibe that Michelle wears, what she wants, because she feels like it. That is all. That in itself speaks volumes. She is powerful and confident enough to do that. This lady is not mere arm candy, she is not a wall flower, not in her husbands shadow. For any female looking to someone who presents female empowerment, look at the platform of Michelle Obama. She is very much her husbands not so secret weapon. They are a power elite team, a power couple, the Jay Z and Beyonce of politics with all the swag and style to match!
Michelle Obama is relatable. As a Mother, a wife, an ambassador of the many causes she champions and supports. She brought some designers not the spotlight early days of her position, any designer she wears is clearly on a world platform and it is a huge endorsement, some of her favourites:
Isabel Toledo made the lemongrass wool lace dress lined with white silk that the First Lady wore on inauguration day. Cuban-born Isabel Toledo is a New York designer who is known for her artistic bent (she is married to artist and collaborator Ruben Toledo) and her fine craftsmanship. Michelle has been know to rock Carolina Hererra rather well and there is a mutual appreciation there.
Jason Wu, Taipei-born designer , Narciso Rodriguez – Former fashion writer, Thai-born designer Thakoon Panichguld. Maria Pinto, Tracy Feith, Surfer-turned-designer Riccardo Tisci, Prabal Gurung, Tanya Taylor, and Thom Browne to name just a few.
What I get from Michelle’s style palette, she likes interesting clothes, which just help to convey she is an interesting person, at this turning point in history, just look at the significance she still plays, as her husband is set to leave the White House, it is still Michelle Obama that was wheeled out to save the Hillary Clinton campaign, to stand up and be counted. She has that power, that enigmatic pull, she can and will make you top in your tracks and listen. Michelle’s power and reach is understated, but also undeniable. She doesn’t connect with us as a politician, but as a mother, a wife, a person, who seems genuinely interested in the people she serves. We trust her, we believe her…those two things right there, most politicians just can’t get, you can;t coach it, you can’t buy it, you just have to get Michelle to do it.
As she gave a very clear indication in her speech when her husband was fist campaigning for Presidency and she talked about if you can’t manage your own household, you’re not ready to manage the White House. Michelle Obama certainly exudes the image of a woman who very much hs it on lock when it comes to her house hold, her husband, her children, the whole thing, the is the archetypal black female, strong, no nonsense, tell it like it is, nurturing, caring with no time for whining. Michelle comes across as being more of a make it happen kind of attitude.
I love that every image of her and her husband conveys a real strong team, not a woman in his shadows. She stands tall and beside him, not behind him. They are always holding hands or touching in such a loving and natural way, the kind of married couple you just can’t help but hope to grow into.The US is so lucky to have had a President and First lady with real Swag! I mean they just do, we can relate to them because we can believe when they host the music artists we are actually listening to, the hope hop stars, the r&b singers, that they genuinely want to, that they do sing along to this, it makes us all feel little bit more engaged and connected, less of a the and us mentality which other politicians world wide just can’t breach.
“If Obama’s enormous symbolic power draws primarily from being the country’s first black president, it also draws from his membership in hip-hop’s foundational generation.“ Ta-Nehisi Coates My President Was Black. –The Atlantic.com
I mean, we have in the UK politicians hosting pop stars, and nobody even remotely believes that half of them get down and dance or sing along at home to any of it. They just aren’t relatable in the same way, and as for style tips, Well, Sarah Brown, Cherie Blaire, Samantha Cameron, lovely ladies as they all are, could never have the same reach, power and conviction as Michelle. Actually of them all I’d say Sarah Brown did have a lasting voice and reach out to women more,especially mothers but is’t just not the UK way to deliver the same level of platform. These women were all very much…the wife of..(input significant male). For these ladies their time to shine is when their husbands have left office rather than whilst in it.
My biggest disappointment regarding Michelle is that sector of the public who feel it funny still to put out comments such as that she’s a man, or the insulting and racist jokes relating to the ape in heels, it angers me because this isn’t unique to Michelle, it’s typical if you’re perceived as being almost too strong, too black, too powerful, the same has has been done many a time to Serena Williams to name just one of the many Black women who suffer this. You can just about get away with it if you get up on stage or in a music video and twerk for public acceptance, but if you’re a serious, all about your business , physically powerful and mentally powerful black female, not performing, even when you reach the echelons of power as has Michelle Obama, the highest station in the land, and still, this is the crap you’re dealing with, we’ve (black women) come so far…still have so far to go. Always perceived as a threat on some psychological level. The struggle is real.
But Michelle, style icon, First Lady, holds her head high and with class sails through despite these attacks on her, as she told Hillary Clinton, “When they go low, we go high” and that just about epitomises her, as though to say, she is above all that petty nonsense as her ancestors for hundreds of years gone by have had to do, fix up look sharp move forward, bat those obstacles over your shoulder. It is this strength and reliance that make her such a winner. Had she been in the position of Melania Trump, with designers coming out publicly saying they won’t dress her etc, I can only imagine how the Obamas ould have handled this. They are not the kids in the playground any bully wants to come along with and try that nonsense with, even with lots of journalist egging them on to feel brave enough to do so in a script that could be straight out of the movie mean girls..
I personally think had she, Michelle, been in those shoes and the braying mob mentality that feels it ok to stand up and refuse to dress a first Lady or potential publicly had materialised, reminiscent of some of the issues perhaps women of colour faced in the past..still do in some quarters, but I think it would have been very slickly handled by President Obama in one or two of his speeches, which would have comically reduced those designers to nothing.
In terms of the position of power an Obama speech, by husband or wife, leaves you in no doubt, but calling the out for exactly what that kind of approach and mentality in 2016 is, non-progressive for society as a whole, whilst putting his lady and himself firmly back on top moving forward with the designers they choose to work with and wear instead, rather than designer stepping forward publicly choosing to dress or not dress them, which in itself is a bizarre state of affairs in my opinion.
Michelle, one speech from her, and well, I’d like to see someone try that I’m not playing with you, not dressing you, game with her, (especially if they hadn’t been asked in the first place) it wouldn’t happen a second or third time. She wouldn’t hide or back down, but stand up and be counted, this is her cultural history and she carries that trait through most prominently in my personal opinion. You don’t want to dress me is nothing when your not so distant heritage in that county has been along the lines of, you don’t want me to sit up front on the bus, don’t want me to drink from that fountain, go to that school etc… so I don’t think anyone coming out on that ticket would have got much press had they dared to go up against Michelle, she is that girl that could reduce them to looking what they are with that, within a sentence, basically to convey you don’t want to dress me, you don’t phase me, or you don’t interest me..end of conversation, move it forward. She has some killer put downs, eloquently delivered, always and we love her for that skill. That black girl magic.
Michelle also surprised me, in her closeness with former President Bush, just in my search of images, I note the only other person I see her seem so close to besides her family is in fact Mr Bush with lots of pda photo’s out there, that in itself speaks volumes, she’s not shy, she has an opinion and clearly personality and charisma, forms her own relationships, blazes her own trail, supporting women, children, causes such as eduction long the way. Even being called to support the bid for the first would be Female President.
Michelle is the secret weapon, that person everyone wants to pick first to be on the team, the maker and breaker. She is everything and for me, and man black women across the world she has abbey a true inspiration, a symbol of hope. you can and you will get there, wherever it is you’re trying to go.
You know that game where you liken yourself to a drink or a brand of beer. I think of the advert for Heineken and it’s that slogan that I associate with Michelle Obama, because she really truly has and does reach the parts that other First Ladies can’t reach. Connector, campaigner, trailblazer, influencer. Tough act to follow.
As we go forward into 2017 and say goodbye to what can only be described as one of the most unsettling crazy years in recent history, well, let’s take Michelle’s advice, in all we do, aim high, go high. Keep it moving. Make your mantra’s, choose your resolutions, find your resolve and go for it…all of it.