‘Dumbing Down’ the First Lady?

A writer at Salon says that Michelle Obama has used her freshman year as First Lady to take on traditional roles and be as non-threatening as possible, which have caused her public approval numbers to rise but has come at a cost. Kate Harding said she’s dismayed by people who are saying that Obama was smart to cast herself as “a wife, mother, daughter and sister, not trying to redefine the role of first lady, limiting interviews and staying militantly noncontroversial.”



“What’s left out is that she was forced to work overtime establishing herself as a caricature of traditional femininity because when she acted like herself, too many people missed the obvious: that she never was threatening, that she always had an apparently wonderful relationship with her daughters -- cultivated while her husband was constantly traveling to build his political career -- and that her brains were a major asset to the whole family,” Harding said. “Also left out: How she feels about being at the mercy of image consultants who apparently decided there was nothing wrong with her that a belted cardigan and a lobotomy wouldn't fix.” (December 2009)