Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Michelle: Not My American Idol

by Susan Braun


Michelle Obama. She and I were born the same year. We both came of age in the ’70s, in the Midwest. She went to Ivy League Princeton; I graduated Phi Beta Kappa [1], albeit from the less tony Indiana University. We’re both moms of girls.


So why don’t I feel a sense of connection with her at all?


On a very basic level, politics play a role. My conservative views and her liberal ones will never meet. While she wrote her senior thesis on her feelings of inferiority as a black student at Princeton [2], I was working at the campus volunteer student bureau and playing piano for a local church.
She has clearly felt like a victim. I haven’t.


She was first proud of her country at the age of 44 [3], because that’s when she sensed people were “ready for change”. I’ve been proud of my country ever since I can remember, even though I disagree strongly with the convictions of many in it.


She would like the federal government to provide universal healthcare [4]. I think that’s a recipe for cripplingly-high taxes and a drop in service level.


She views weekends as “family time”, not to be interrupted by church services [5]. I wouldn’t miss attending a worship service and Sunday School with mine.


She vigorously defends women’s right to abortion [6]. I feel it’s important that my three daughters have all the rights we’re entitled to as Americans - both after AND before birth.


Despite our differences, Michelle and I agree on a few things.


We both are interested in raising our daughters to be the best people they can be.


We both would like to contribute all we can to this great nation.


It’s really not that complicated.


It’s the media I blame for the coverage of Michelle, so over-the-top that it’s alienating. She’s bringing romance back to the White House [7]. She has the most lovely arms ever seen in first lady-dom [8]. She’s sparkly and new [8]. Come on!


I don’t blame Michelle for this - as an educated, professional woman, she’s most likely embarrassed by the excess. I DO blame the supposedly-unbiased media. To which I suggest: lay off Michelle, already. She is not the first woman (or even - gasp - first lady) with a “real body” [9] and a “real marriage” [10]. Maybe you are just now discovering what “a real marriage between equals actually looks like” [11], but some of us have known all along.


Watching her doesn’t inspire me to be my best [11], any more than watching Laura Bush did. And really? That’s as it should be. It’s not the first lady’s job to inspire me. I can do that myself, and it’s demeaning to all women to suggest we’re sitting around waiting for a role model.


So Michelle? Enjoy your lovely clothes and enjoy your girls. Enjoy your causes and your White House years. I am happy for you and respect your position, but I don’t need you as my idol.




After an 8-year teaching career, Susan Braun is now a professional mom of three daughters and caretaker to a rabbit, a hedgehog, and two gerbils, living in the heartland of Indiana. Susan plays organ and piano, reads obsessively, and shares her observations at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com [12]. She has had work published in various educational magazines, Parents, and Children's Ministry.

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