It was disappointing to me when More magazine decided to play politics by featuring Michelle on their cover in October one month prior to the November election. What a coincidence. I’ve even gotten into the habit of turning over magazines from Newsweek to Time in the stores I frequent because Barry’s iconic image is on the cover of multitudinous journalistic and entertainment issues as well as each and every periodical to come off a printing press. But when I received a copy of March’s Vogue on Friday and saw that Michelle was featured on the cover, my first reaction was to write, Return to Sender in black magic marker on the outside and mail it back. However, my interest was piqued upon seeing the large white letters that said, “Michelle Obama the First Lady the World’s been Waiting For.” I just had to see what the world was expecting and to find out what I might be overlooking.
I know that Barack fancies himself a global resident, but what does it mean to be a “citizen” of the world? “Obama’s view of “global citizenship… seems to [be] trans-national obligations on such things as income distribution, education, poverty, disease and violence” (Real Clear Politics, Obama a Citizen of the World, Robert Robb, July 30, 2008). Obviously, these are all issues that need to be addressed by the global community and will be impacted by our example as a nation giving substance to our rhetoric. Michelle expressed, when speaking about Sasha and Malia in the Talley article, that she hopes, “…all kids will have a feeling that they are citizens of the world.” I would imagine with a husband who is a global citizen and two transnational ingénue daughters, Michelle must view herself as a worldwide resident also.
We’re well aware that the Obama countrywide “cooperative” has always included the full spectrum of the American public, with extra emphasis on the underprivileged. We come to also find out that our new President and his unpretentious bride play “We Are the World” on their IPOD’s over-and-over again to remind themselves to not set their socialistic redesign goals too low. There is a whole planet just waiting to be absorbed into the “collective” – and who better than Barry and Michelle to welcome them in North, South, East and West with their populist, inner-city, fist-bumping, South Side of Chicago style, attitude and especially attire. Who better to bring unity and parity to the world community than an approachable, commoner like Michelle Obama who has graced the pages of People magazine’s Best Dressed List, something that in India used magazine vendors can really relate to.
Before sharing with you what I learned in this enlightening Andre’ Leon Talley Vogue article, I want to go over a few things about the world that has been waiting since its foundation for our First Lady to emerge on the global stage. According to Global Issues: Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues that Affect Us All, almost half of the world – over three billion people – live on less than $2.50 a day, a tad sixty-five cents more than our middle class tax rebate if calculated by the day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10.00 a day, which is three dollars less than our weekly tax-cut. More informative than that, according to UNICEF 26,500 – 30,000 children die each day due to poverty and they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages.” This is a far cry from the $30,000 a year Sidwell School in Washington DC, world citizens Sasha and Malia attend daily, especially because nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
In the world that has been awaiting Michelle Obama, every second child lives in poverty and 640 million live without adequate shelter. I wonder if the world’s First Lady was thinking about that as she was waylaid in the Hay-Adams luxury hotel which, “…provides guests with exclusive Etro toiletries, custom Italian bed linens and bath towels, robes and slippers for both adults and children” all at a globally affordable $1,000.00 per night? The Hay-Adams luxury hotel is where the Vogue down-home interview actually took place. This is where Michelle Obama sashayed over to a corner of the reception suite in her Narciso Rodriguez dress and $400.00 Jimmy Choo pumps and humbly queried Leon Talley, “…do you see our new house” while gazing through the window at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue situated across the street?
I also wonder if the First Lady who the world has been waiting for is aware that 790 million people in the developing world are chronically undernourished. However, I do know that regardless she felt it was incumbent upon her to share some intriguing tidbits about the food at the White House, which I’m sure two-thirds of the undernourished people in Asia and the Pacific would be anxious to hear about. For instance that, “…t
While 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water and over 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation, our new First Lady has more important things to consider and some very serious deliberation time to clock, “…contemplating coming up with her own china,” when she says, “ I think that’s part of the job” (Chicago Sun-Times, First Lady Michelle Obama, Desiree Rogers preview White House dinner tonight, Lynn Sweet
Didn’t the Bush girls go to public school? sleep on the floor inside the International Polio Victim Response Committee (IPVRC) compound in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, the “meager carved out bedroom” in your modest Chicago home would be their Plaza Hotel .Excuse me…does anyone remember Laura Bush’s efforts in Afghanistan addressing the issue of women’s rights, adorned in a head scarf?
Andre’ Leon Talley tries hard in “Vogue” to persuade his readers that Michelle Obama, “…is less focused on –in divert inverse proportion to the focus of the public – on fashion, which isn’t to say that she doesn’t appreciate good clothes.” This is at best is an understatement. Michelle “First Lady to the World” is a fashionista, designer name dropping, label greedy, clothes horse – Michelle Obama wearing an off-the-rack $148.00 Donna Ricco sundress on The View and using that to prove she is one of the little people, Wal-Mart shoppers, is like a racist trying to prove they are not by proudly saying, “I had a black friend once.” Michelle pretending “You can get some good stuff online” is disingenuous especially from someone the world has been patiently waiting for to replace the late Mother Theresa. “Obama’s wardrobe…is well known to be that of high-priced, exclusive designers. Endless profiles have been written about her custom-made tailored frocks from personal designer Maria Pinto. And then there are her gazillion-dollar outfits from Moschino, Narciso Rodriguez and Azzedine Alaia” (DebbieSchlussel.com, She’s No Palin: Michelle Obama Now Lying about Gazillion Dollar Custom-Made Designer Wardrobe; Claims She Shops @ J. Crew, On Line, 10-27-08).
The catalog of high end designer clothes that Michelle “Antoinette” wears is like the Who’s Who in Forbes Magazine. Designers like Rodriguez whose runway styles cost $3,500.00 or more. Isabel Toledo, who designed the First Lady’s Swiss wool lace, backed with netting for warmth and lined in French silk Inauguration Day coat. Toledo said, “I wanted to pick a very optimistic color that had sunshine”, which I must say is very apropos for such an optimistic administration. “I wanted her to feel charmed and in that way would charm everybody” (The Caucus, About the Dress, Horyn, 1-20-09). All I have to say is “How Charming!” Let’s not forget about Thakoon Panichgul , Jason Wu, Jimmy Choo, Zero+Maria Cornejo, Peter Soronen jackets that run about $4,000.00 a piece and Maria Pinto who designed her $1,250.00 convention dress. Excused by the fashion groupies as being, “… womanliness, grandeur and elegance and declar[ing] Obama’s ease at being a woman of modest background thrust into extraordinary circumstances” (Washington Post, All Hail the Leader of the Fashionable World, Givhan, 1-21-09). Wha…Huh?
What might be viewed as vain and self-indulgent on Michelle’s part has been vindicated by her devoted guardians in the following way, “As her husband’s administration promises more jobs and help for small-business owners, and emphasizes creativity as one of this country’s greatest assets, Obama’s choice of an iconoclastic immigrant female designer with a modest business sends a profound message of intent” (Washington Post, All Hail the Leader of the Fashionable World, Givhan, 1-21-09). “Sending a profound message of intent” that’s for sure! Michelle’s flippant extravagance has been re-written to cover her as being concerned only with diversity and earnest egalitarian utility as her goal in making various international best dressed lists. She uses designers to stimulate the economy and to support small business, how altruistic. We have to remember that these are the same people that describe Mrs. Obama as “lithe…an uncommon figure for an American First Lady.” Am I missing something? Though possessing a perfectly lovely and healthy body Michelle is not “lithe”, describing her as such is a red flag, which signals to me that Obama followers are deluded, enamored or just seeing something I’m just not picking up on and quite frankly, it’s a little creepy.
Michelle is the one our global commune has been waiting for, she was also the only one found floating through the Inaugural Balls like a butterfly, in a designer, custom-made gown, “…in flowing ivory silk chiffon with a single strap, embroidered with silver thread and adorned with Swarovski crystal rhinestones” (Washington Post, All Hail the Leader of the Fashionable World, Givhan, 1-21-09). The new President and his convivial First Lady danced on the world stage while the whole planet groaned a double-entendre sigh-of-relief realizing that finally they had arrived “At Last”. Note to Citizen-in-Chieftess there are places on the planet where shoes and clothes are extravagances they would do without in place of food. Like the Congo where some of the ancestors who make up our nation’s African-American community were birthed. The people you claim to have such a deep, “special connection” with and of whom you are a representative of by being the first African-American First Lady. Be mindful Michelle just one of your couture outfits would provide a lot of nourishment, clothes, medicine and hope to hundreds of Congolese children…but then again if you do that you can’t continue to promote yourself as a sartorial fashion icon in the mold of a 21st century Jackie O.
It’s puzzling to me how Michelle Obama and her cohort of affectionate fans can continue to compare her to Jackie O as Jacqueline Kennedy embodied the blue-blood, rich, jodhpur wearing, white upper-class that Barry and Michelle have built their entire public career on debasing in the minds of average Americans. These are the same evil people that need to be punished, but not until Michelle raids their closets? You would think that Jackie Onassis would be the last person Michelle would want to be associated with on any level – has anyone seen the missing Reverend Wright or maybe even Bill Ayers?
Andre’ Leon Talley is under the impression that Michelle will be swinging open the doors to the White House so the great unwashed can enter into her open, welcoming, well-toned arms. “It’s been an awfully long time since strangers off the street could wander right into the presidential mansion, but Michelle Obama’s intention is to open up the White House again in a spirit of diversity and inclusion. She speaks of her future there as almost a collective experience. It’s never”me” and “mine” and “some”’ but “we” and “our” and “all”. She is like the neighbor organizing a block party; everyone is invited.” I have to ask a few questions Mr. Talley; will this be before or after she picks out the china? Do you happen to know if she’ll be wearing her Isabel Toledo tunic and palazzo pants to the “Everyone is invited” block party? If she’s not, can you ask her if I can borrow them? And will Michelle be slinging hash and buttering our corn-on-the-cob too?
I bet in an effort to foster fairness Michelle will be reproducing the February Governor’s Dinner Menu for Washington DC’s homeless. I’m sure coming from the Maryland area the locals will just love the Chesapeake Crab Agnolottis with Roasted Sun chokes, washed down with Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2007. Some I’m sure will prefer the Wagyu Beef and Nantucket Scallops with Glazed Red Carrots, Portobello Mushroom and Creamed Spinach, of course without the crème. They’ll love that, followed up by another South-side community favorite of Winter Citrus Salad with Pistachios and Lemon Honey Vinaigrette. At this big, happy, collective barbeque on the White House lawn, which all of America is invited to, Michelle will surely be in the hub of the action scooping out that Huckleberry Cobbler and topping it with homemade Caramel Ice Cream?
So what exactly is the world waiting for? Someone that we can all relate to…regardless of the circumstances we live under and wherever we dwell on the earth? According to Talley, Oprah Winfrey, the woman who has made 1.5 billion in her career, feels that more than any other this First Lady is who the world has been waiting for and is someone “…who looks and feels like a modern woman in the 21st century, allowing us to see the best of ourselves in her. [She’s] bringing a sense of connection and accessibility to that position that no nation has ever witnessed (emphasis mine). “ I wonder whether the millions of the world’s women who spend several hours of the day finding, collecting and hauling home clean water would agree. Maybe if Michelle wants to be First Lady to the world she could start by not wearing $1,250.00 dresses to afternoon events and be an international example by using that money to support forty-one impoverished indigents at Save the Children with food and clothes for a whole month.
If Obama is really serious, which I doubt, about addressing trans-national issues like income distribution (God forbid), education, poverty, disease and violence he could start by encouraging his wife to be an example of judicious behavior in a time of economic stress and not to act like a modern day Marie Antoinette. You remember Marie she was busy being fitted in custom made clothes while her country and even the world are on the verge of economic “catastrophe”, which is how Obama himself describes our present crisis. It would be to Madame Michelle’s benefit, that while she is adjusting the ostrich plume in her hat, to remember that while it may be true that “Every true fashionista has a signature look, even when her country is on the verge of revolution” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Losing our heads over Marie Antoinette Doomed French queen proved power of fashion, Rhone, 09-29-06) it isn’t necessarily the wisest way to conduct ourselves in times of international hardship.
History does have a habit of repeating itself so maybe while you’re wiggling your little “lithe” toes in the sand on the beaches of Saint-Tropez next summer a good book to read would be Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, which is a biography about “…the political backlash against a monarch who played a life-long game of expensive dress-ups while her people starved” (Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, Caroline Weber). Andre’ Leon Talley, bless his heart, may be convinced that Michelle Obama is the First Lady that the world has been waiting for, I on the other hand have to ask, based on her in-your-face elitist, extravagant, excessive, priggish behavior; What in the world are we doing with Michelle Obama as our First Lady in the first place?
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