Obama's Choice to Bare Arms Causes Uproar

Critics contend the first lady's outfit for her official photo is too informal.

ByABC News via GMA logo
March 1, 2009, 9:48 PM

March 2, 2009 — -- The latest arms controversy embroiling the White House has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Instead, it's sprung from criticism about Michelle Obama showing off her toned triceps and biceps in her first official photo as first lady.

The nation's first spouse, who often dons sleeveless attire, dared to show off her limbs in the picture that graces her Web site and was released Sunday.

"The sleeveless look is very much in keeping with what we've seen from Michelle Obama," said Politico White House reporter Malika Henderson of the first lady's black dress, which she set off with a white pearl necklace. "It is very much her signature look, so I wasn't that surprised."

But some are criticizing the South Side Chicago native for her choice of attire, calling it too informal and out of season.

And Obama's black dress with a strand of white pearls around her neck is just the most recent of her fashion choices that have featured her exposed arms.

Last week at President Obama's first congressional address, she chose a purple sleeveless ensemble.

"One reader summed it up better than most of them. She talked about how the season is winter, the occasion was business and a sleeveless dress was the wrong style at the wrong time," said Chicago Tribune style reporter Wendy Donahue.

She said the paper's Web site has received hundreds of online responses about Obama's outfit.

"Most of the complaints centered on the dress conveying a sense of informality on a serious occasion," Donahue said. "She's kind of faced some criticism for that in the past where people have said maybe [her clothing is] distracting from the central point, from what is going on."

Even some Washington insiders were surprised by Obama's wear because of the frigid February weather.

"When she was at the non-State of the Union address and had the sleeveless dress on, that was a bit of a surprise and I got some e-mails from some folks who were, you know, they work on the Hill and they were like, 'Wow she's sleeveless,'" Henderson said. "'Nobody else is sleeveless here and it is the winter.'"