The Many Faces of First Lady Michelle Obama
Many Americans approve of a different kind of first lady.
April 29, 2009— -- Life these days for first lady Michelle Obama is a mix of the mom-in-chief role she said she would pursue first and foremost, and the ongoing development of a policy and outreach role.
Since the Obamas moved into the White House 100 days ago, they have certainly brought change to the presidential residence.
"Sometimes they sleep in the girls' rooms, or sometimes they sleep upstairs where there's a TV," the first lady told a group of schoolchildren at the White House last week. "They like sleeping in front of the TV, probably like you all do when you have a sleepover."
The first lady has graced the cover of dozens of magazines, inspired a comic book and a Web site that tracks her outfits daily. The fascination with her fashion began from the moment she made her debut at the inaugural ball in a flowing gown by Jason Wu.
"The biggest thing that she's done is kind of transform the way we think a first lady is supposed to look," said Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's fashion editor.
"One of the most distinctive things is that she dresses in a way that's very contemporary and is not concerned with trying to fit into the traditional costume of a first lady."
Obama wears a mix of ready-to-wear basics from stores like J.Crew, with high-fashion pieces from designers such as Isabel Toledo and Jimmy Choo. Her style is decidedly more modern than any of her predecessors, particularly her penchant for sleeveless dresses. Her decision to bear her arms in her official White House portrait raised some eyebrows.
"I think it's surprising only because we're so used to first ladies being covered up," Givhan said.
"They're arms of a particular generation. They're about athleticism. They're the arms of a woman who came of age when women went to the gym and they lifted weights and that wasn't deemed as unfeminine, so I think in some ways it's generational."
The first lady has said on a number of occasions that she has the best job in the White House, because she "gets to do the fun stuff."
But America has yet to hear much from the other side of Michelle Obama, the Harvard-trained lawyer, the executive, the woman who once was President Obama's boss.
Danielle Belton, who blogs for blacksnob.com, said, "She is very careful about what kind of energy she puts out there, about what she has to say. She's very mindful. She's very smart. I feel like she is waiting for the right time."
First lady Hillary Clinton learned the hard way that too strong, too fast, did not work. First lady Laura Bush kept her politics fairly private during her husband's time in office.