Sunday, 22 May 2011

Michelle Obama's Shoes

A few weeks ago, I blogged an update on the plans for Barack and Michelle's UK visit (which starts tomorrow!), and a commenter took the time to provide some political analysis in the comments, writing:
This time I hope the Obamas do not embarass Americans again with a tackey gift and inappropriate social manners. Michelle will, no doubt, wear outfits that are hidious, inappropriate for a royal visitation. No doubt, her shoes will be a color that absolutely do not match or fight the shade of her outfit. There is no hope for this woman! 
Now, I've defended the President and First Lady on a number of occasions - but I have to admit to  defeat here. If I'm truthful, I would probably have to confess that my own shoes frequently fight with the shade of my outfit. It's a shame I have had to live with. As for Michelle's, in fairness I think I should fully disclose the horror and embarrassment that the First Lady's shoes have wrought upon this nation.

Shining a silverly light upon this scandal. Shoegate. 
 What I didn't realise was that there I have been unwittingly overlooking a major undercurrent of the American debate. It turns out that there is a raging national dialogue taking place on the important topic of how very ugly some commentators believe Michelle to be.

You see, startled by the intensity of my commenter's shoe-related disgust, I tried to remember what terrible shoe faux pas Michelle might have made, so did a quick Google search looking for some pictures.

You know that feeling when you turn inoccently overturn a rock and find scurrying, repellent creatures beneath? Well, that's what it's like when you click through on some of these sites - to which I will not link. Because... ew.

But I did find one commentator, referring to Michelle, saying: "She is the ugliest woman in the world bar none!"


The ugliest women in the world, bar none? Someone, somewhere actually thinks that?

I don't know. Personally, I take the view that the physical appearance of people in general and women in particular is made too important - outside of fashion modelling there's no profession where being beautiful should be a mandatory  part of the job. I think Michelle herself would be the first to agree that loving your family, caring for your community, working hard at your job are all more important than just looking amazing in a pair of Jimmy Choos.
On display in the Smithsonian: Our national shame?
But on the plus side, my brief ugly foray into the hate-filled world of Michelle-Is-Ugly-ism (a theory that I find about as implausible as the theory that Barack was secretly born in Kenya) did give me the opportunity to read what I now regard as possible the Stupidest Thing Ever Written On the Internet. And this is not an accolade that I bestow lightly.

Objecting to Michelle's observation that Barack understand the issues that women face in their lives, this blogger writes:
What kind of women is Michelle talking about? Her black sisters? Certainly what she says does not apply to Scandinavian-American women. We have no “issues to face”, we live our lives and try not to create any issues for our community.
OK then! "Scandinavian-American" woman have NO issues to face. They earn equal pay for work, don't have any difficulty in balancing work and child-rearing, never need to fear rape and sexual violence, and always have easy access to quality and affordable health care. Oh, to be a Scandinavian-American woman, but I guess as an Anglo Saxon woman, I'll just have to struggle on.

Michelle beside Carla Bruni. Are we surrendering to France?
On the bright side, not everyone thinks that Michelle is a physically repellent fashion disaster. Googling the phrase "Michelle Obama style icon" returns over 2 million hits - most of them pages gushing about the First Lady's elegant but relatable style.

Personally, I'm just glad she works so hard to encourage kids to eat healthy and live active lifestyles, that she tries to give something back to the families of wounded serviceman and woman, and that she tries to be a role model to young women. I'm not really going to make a judgement on the shoes.
Casually destroying our global reputation with her sneakers?


Ian H said...

So what shall we choose to talk about?

Well the Arab spring is rocking countries throughout the middle-east and north africa, we've had 2 revolutions and at least 3 more well underway... then we've got ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan... we're increasingly being drawn into Libya... oh and then there's the world financial crisis, the eurozone in meltdown... but OH MY GOD... she wore THOSE to see the Queen!?!? Are you serious? I'm speechless.

Stop the world. I think we need to talk ;-)

Obama London said...

Across the Middle East, protesters are laying down their arms and surrendering to autocratic regimes crying, "Now I see where democracy leads. The shoes... dear god! The SHOES!"

bellatempo said...

All I can say is Fashpolitico endorses the style and panache of the first lady and cannot wait to see her outfits!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is Fashpolitico endorses the style and panache of the first lady and cannot wait to see her outfits!

Obama London said...

Thank you for the link on your fascinating blog, Fashpolitico.

Anonymous said...

Michelle is helping American Designers, and garment companies, and yet you will have haters who just do not want to be helped.

Michelle put unknown designers on the map, opened doors. According to a study she has had a 3 billion dollar effect on the American fashion industry. That translates into jobs.

I find Michelle to be a Midwestern woman not ashamed of her womanly figure, someone that looks like many middle class women with kids. Bravo for every woman!! Bravo Michelle!!

Proud Midwesterner.

Anonymous said...

What has fashion got to do with looks? and who says she is ugly? Are you blind? Can't you see or is it because she is black so she does not fit in line with the previous 'First ladies?' Don't you have better things to do than criticize her?

Obama London said...

Hi Anonymous, just in case this isn't 100% clear: I find the first lady to be a strikingly beautiful woman, and I think it's pretty close to an objective truth to state that she is absolutely not ugly. Which is why I was stunned to find that there are people out there spending a lot of mental energy on believing otherwise. Who are these people? Haters and (I fear) racists.

Carole Stone-Oks said...

Michelle does NOT look "middle" class. Her effervescence and intelligence transcends all repugnant and irrelevant attempts to classify a person. She looks joyful, smart, happy, alert, well-breakfasted...and, luck woman, well-attended to by her husband.

Jamdown said...

You have a great blog here -- just found it linked to THEOBAMADIARY.COM.

I love the Obamas and am enjoying the pictures of their trip to Ireland/England.

Ms. Obama has great taste -- and great arms. I have no problem ignoring the racists and haters.

Take care!!

Obama London said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jamdown. Glad you found me - please do follow the blog through RSS or on our Facebook page if you want to keep getting updates. I'll keep this going long after Barack and Michelle leave town.