Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Michelle Obama's Butt

I'm sure Michelle Obama would be the first to admit that her "posterior" is large.

I think she looks great, though sometimes she does make poor wardrobe choices, ones that negatively accentuate the disproportionate size of her behind. Sometimes she hides it well, sometimes she doesn't.

Let's be honest - the physical appearance of any public figure is critiqued. She's a celebrity. She's going to be treated like one.

The Queen of England isn't spared. Why should Queen Michelle?

First ladies don't get a pass. They've all been slammed for the perceived inadequacies of their hair, their bodies, their clothes.

That's what makes the Washington Post article by Krissah Thompson so weird.

She admits other first ladies have suffered the public scrutiny about their looks, but suggests that in Michelle Obama's case, it's racially based.

The latest public rant against Michelle Obama’s effort to promote low-calorie school lunches was recently caught on tape in Alabama — the usual protest against the federal government meddling in local business. And then it quickly found its way around to the first lady’s posterior.

“Fat butt Michelle Obama,” said Bob Grisham, a high school football coach who was surreptitiously recorded by one of his students. “Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”

Grisham, who was suspended Monday, is neither the first nor the most high-profile person to feel moved to comment on the first lady’s physique. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has repeatedly called her Michelle “My Butt” Obama. And Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, the Wisconsin Republican, issued an apology after he was caught commenting on her “large posterior.” (Grisham has also said he misspoke.)
Grisham was suspended?

Wow. The "public rant" wasn't all that public if it "was surreptitiously recorded by one of his students." It wasn't appropriate for a high school authority figure to make rude comments about Michelle Obama's weight, but suspension seems rather harsh, unless the school has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to commenting on others' physical appearance.

If Michelle Obama didn't lecture everyone in the country about our eating habits and shove her will on us, I think there would be less focus on her size.

Michelle Obama obviously is not the first first lady to be subjected to criticism for the way she looks. Hillary Clinton was accused of having “cankles” — slang for chubby ankles. One of her predecessors was immortalized in song by the group Mission of Burma: “I’m haunted by the freakish size of Nancy Reagan’s head /No way that thing came with that body.”

But what is it with Michelle Obama’s critics and the fixation with her derriere?

“We have a history in this country of white people not showing adequate respect for and devaluing the bodies of black women, and this most definitely falls in line with that,” says Ayana Byrd, the co-editor of the anthology “Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts.” (Grisham, Limbaugh and Sensenbrenner are white men.)

...Her presence as first lady challenges the historic view of a black woman’s place and notions of beauty, says Michaela Angela Davis, a fashion expert who has campaigned for more positive images of black women in the media. “Michelle is black from a distance. She’s a real black girl,” Davis says. “A lot of people have tried to make diversity into this weird beige thing. Her presence is just really powerful to interject into the global consciousness.”

The first lady’s critics “are reacting to the culture in which they’ve grown up or they are using it as a code to racialize Michelle Obama and remind people that she’s black,” says Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University. “It is unreasonable to expect a nearly 50-year-old woman to have the body of a 25-year-old. She looks great for her age.”
With all due respect, this is a load of crap.

The fact that Michelle Obama carries some extra weight in certain areas of her body and the fact that people comment on that reality have nothing to do with her race.

She's a very attractive woman, but not flawless.

Are we not allowed to speak the truth?

Certainly, making negative comments about how the first lady looks is impolite. In my opinion, apologies are in order when such comments are made in a public forum for public consumption. People should be held accountable for their remarks.

However, are we really to conclude that Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner was using "code to racialize Michelle Obama and remind people that she’s black"?

That's just idiotic.

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