The Wednesday Five


“Thank-You” Notes to First Lady Michelle Obama

A chorus of women, including Rashida Jones, Gloria Steinem, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie penned “thank-you” notes to First Lady Michelle Obama for spending “the past eight years quietly and confidently changing the course of American history.” Obama graces the cover of  this week’s New York Style Magazine. Here are some highlights from their beautiful words in tribute to FLOTUS:

  • “Michelle Obama will have her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. And it will be that she was the first first lady to show women that they don’t have to choose. That it’s okay to be everything.” — Rashida Jones
  • “After a decade under a public microscope, she has managed what no other first lady — and few people in any public position — have succeeded in doing: She has lived a public life without sacrificing her privacy and authenticity.” — Gloria Steinem
  • “She reached across borders and cast her light on the education of girls all over the world. She danced on television shows. She hugged more people than any first lady ever has, and she made “first lady” mean a person warmly accessible, a person both normal and inspirational and a person many degrees of cool.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie




from the Women’s Voices Archives:

Michelle Obama: Committed to Women’s Work by Emily Bernard

8505341403_f0faa20f8d_zFeb. 24, 2013, First Lady Michelle Obama announces that the Best Picture Oscar would go to “Argo.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(This article was originally published on April 23, 2013.)

But Michelle Obama’s ubiquity is not imaginary.  It is really she: at the Oscars, dancing and racing with Jimmy Fallon, on the cover of April’s Vogue, and, very recently, gushing over Harrison Ford during a visit he paid to the White House. On the heels of these appearances, commentators on both ends of the political spectrum have wondered at the wisdom of so much exposure. At the same time, the public appetite for Mrs. Obama has gone unabated since 2008. Some say it has actually increased; Forbes lists her as No. 7 on its roll of the world’s most influential women.

Americans admire and adore Michelle Obama; we delight in her seeming authenticity and accessibility. The creators of the blog “Mrs. O” mull over the fashion choices of the first lady as if they were neighbors peering over a fence. Like so many other people, I myself enjoy imagining that I somehow know the “real” Michelle Obama, particularly after I published, with Deborah Willis, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs in 2009. The more photographs of Mrs. Obama that we examined, the more available to her public she appeared to be.  Today, it seems as if Mrs. Obama is everywhere, even our living rooms.

Michelle Obama faces criticism that she is overexposed in a world where everyone is overexposed. Our public (and some we thought were private) deeds and misdeeds are available for view at any time; the line between past and present seems no longer to exist.  Mrs. Obama’s college thesis, for example, nearly 30 years old, is available online.  A simple Internet search pulls up childhood photos of Mrs. Obama and wedding photographs of the first couple, the kind of artifacts that used to be reserved for the enjoyment of family and friends. As Mrs. Obama has herself said, “Everybody’s kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else.” Perhaps it’s not the quantity of coverage that some people find objectionable, it’s the quality.

Read the full article here.

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