Wednesday, April 1, 2009

First Ladies - In America And Beyond

Every time the United States elects a new President, they also elect a First Lady. Well, she is not officially elected, but she is part of the package deal. In my own personal opinion, I don't understand all the media fuss over Michelle Obama. They seem to be making her over into some sort of fashion icon, à la Jacqueline Kennedy. Just as with the Obamas, the whole country -- and indeed the world -- wanted to fall in love with the Kennedys, and so they did. But, really, apart from their service to their country they're all just ordinary people, and I don't think they -- or anyone else -- should be bestowed with qualities they don't possess.

My favorite, and in my opinion the most attractive of the First Ladies, was Rosalynn Carter. She was exquisitely pretty, and had a sweet, southern belle persona. She was quiet and unassuming, but her nickname was the "Steel Magnolia". Rosalynn Carter was one of the most hardworking of the First Ladies. She attended Cabinet meetings and major briefings, frequently represented the Chief Executive at ceremonial occasions, and served as the President's personal emissary to Latin American countries. She was indeed a steel magnolia, but she didn't crave the spotlight.

Svetlana Medvedev, the wife of the President of Russia, has a worldly, European charm. European women have a certain je ne sais quoi that is not often seen on this side of the Atlantic. Svetlana Medvedev has a degree in finance and economics, and she is often credited with forging the contacts that enabled her husband to break out of his life of academia and into the world of commerce and politics. Svetlana has chosen to immerse herself in social work, for which she has won awards. She heads the board of a church-backed educational program that brings more spiritual and moral discipline to Russia's youth.

Canada's own Laureen Harper is no shrinking violet, either. After Laureen graduated from university, earning a degree in journalism and photography, she spent six months travelling in Africa where she visited 13 different countries, and she has been interested in African topics since that time. She also rides a motorcycle and drinks beer from the bottle, but she's very smart and in her husband's inner political circle she is known as the "Secret Weapon". She's charming and extroverted.

Michelle Obama, through a stroke of good fortune, is married to the man who is President of the United States. But apart from that, I don't get what the is the big deal. Whatever else she may be, she is not a fashion icon.

I will now put on my flak jacket and head for cover... *heh*

39 comments:

ivan said...

Oh-oh.

Lorna said...

But where is Jackie Kennedy? I agree with you about Michelle O.


~Lorna

Deb said...

Well I could say alot of things, but I will just say that my favorite 1st ladies were Barbara Bush and Laura Bush, they both did a lot for education and they both truly love their husbands and acted like true ladies. Laura Bush was a wonderful Governors wife, she came to a function in our town my son was in the choir and sang for her, she was so gracious and down to earth, she was dressed reserved came in a reserved car, one of our city council woman at the time showed up in a stretch limo wearing a fire engine red dress and big red hat, such a contrast, Laura Bush was so sweet to the kids after they sang. See that wasn't so bad....LOL

Jo said...

Ivan, *heh* I am heading for the hills now.

Lorna, I was never all that impressed with Jackie Kennedy. Really! Not at all. She married Aristotle Onassis and lost whatever mystique she may have had.

Deb, I completely agree with you. Totally! Both Barbara and Laura Bush were extremely ladylike. I liked them both very much!

Firefly said...

Our "President in waiting" has several wives. Being a Zulu, it is acceptable in his culture, so it doesn't matter what the rest of the country thinks.

A human kind of human said...

I confess: I do not understand the fascination that the Obamas hold for people. I suspect it has to do with the fact that he is the first African American president of the USA. There seems to be a general fascination with all things Africa lately in the world. People are romanticising Africa and people coming out of Africa. I, living in Africa, just wonder how all of these people (including the Obamas) would react if they were confronted with the realities of Africa: the African people and culture, and daily life in Africa. I believe all romanticism would disappear very quickly. The comment of Firefly is a small indication of the difference of Africa from the rest of the world. However, I love Africa and would not want to live anywhere else.

white crow said...

that's soooo true!!!

the walking man said...

You are correct Jo; she ain't no Margaret Trudeau.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Michelle Obama is the greatest thig since sliced bread. She is super smart and has more fashion sense than Paris Hilton. I think all women would do well to think and dress like her. She even has a sense of humor. What is there not to like? I think she should participate in America's Next Top Model. I would gladly sell all my possessions to fund her wardrobe.

April Fool....belated! But I do agree with Mark. Margaret Trudeau was a happy poster child for us liberal socialists! Or is that liberal anarchists?

greenpanda said...

Well, I don't know her, so I won't say anything. But in my opinion, anyone in that kind of spotlight will find it extremely hard to be normal.

Ruby Isabella said...

Soon, we will be having discussions like this about all the different First Gentlemen, and how gentlemen-like they are.

By the way, is there a first dog? I heard they were going to get a dog.

introspection said...

All the first ladies are normal human beings agreed. But They are bound to attract attention being the other/better half of Political heads of countries. Obviuosly, how they conduct themselves in front of the world and who they are matters. They affect all decions made by their husbands in one way or the other. they get a platform to use. And the whole world watches how they use this plat form Ex: Jackeline Kennedy was doing fine (using the platform to her personal advantage) till she married Onassis, then she lost every thing.

Andrea said...

You don't need to take cover from me. I comletely agree. I hate when "we" try to make celebrities out of ordinary people.

Leslie: said...

Well, did you hear about Michelle's big gaff with the Queen? She HUGGED her! Now everyone knows you DO NOT TOUCH THE QUEEN! Where were her advisors in this situation?

Kate Hanley said...

Been following your blog for a while now and I really enjoy it. But I do disagree with you about Michelle Obama. I think that she is admired because she is a smart, attractive woman who also appears to be a loving wife and mother (and it doesn't hurt that she's a snazzy dresser). We have so many negative images of women especially in Hollywood that I think we're hungry for a woman who has it all. She's role model becausee she's poised and yet fun. And, I personally never found Laura Bush all that exciting. She always seemed to have a vaucous expression her face and if she wasn't really all there. Just my two cents. I do love your blog,.

DUTA said...

I liked Patty Nixon, Rosalind Carter and Nancy Reagan as they looked very Lady-like. All the other President wives resembled the neighbor next door.

Dee said...

Michelle Obama is an educated and intelligent woman. She represents us with dignity. She ia dedicated to raising her children as normal kids, as much as is possible given their life right now. Her sphere of interest is working with military families of those serving overseas or just returning. Her "designer" is J Crew, a brand that is most affordable. Her kids wore J. Crew at their father's inauguration. The queen, apparently, put her arm around Michelle first and Michelle had a natural response to do the same. No biggie! The media gives us so much hype, we should all know that by now. Get over it!!!!!!!!!!!!

Judi said...

Oh, Jo,Jo,Jo,Jo,Jo.... I'm beginning to think you enjoy stirring things up!
You beat me to a post about Mrs. Obama. I won't take up all you space posting about all the reasons I respect her and why she is so good for this country.

Dee said...

P.S. Oh, dear, Leslie! It wasn't a hug at all. The queen smiled and all was well. No walls fell!

Jo said...

Firefly, *heh, heh* Well, that would certainly solve a lot of problems, wouldn't it?

A Human Kind of Human, yes, Africa fascinates me too. My mother was born and raised there and she told me all sorts of wonderful stories about it. I don't know what the fascination is with the Obamas.

White Crow, well, it's just my humble opinion. :-)

Mark, oh, gosh, don't remind me about Maggie Trudeau. *heh*

LGS, oh, thank goodness, someone with a sense of humor about the whole thing. *heh* It really is just too much, isn't it?

Greenpanda, oh, goodness yes! They would be under a microscope.

Ruby, yes, I think there is a first dog. And yes, wouldn't a First Gentleman be a relief?

Introspection, yes, that is the point of my blog. There are some extremely interesting First Ladies -- not just one!

Andrea, yes, it becomes ridiculous after a while, don't you think?

Leslie, I actually thought the hug was sort of sweet, and humanized the Queen. But why all the attention on that!!?? Michelle Obama is just an ordinary person.

Kate, I thought Laura Bush was rather sweet and more attractive than Michelle Obama, but you're right -- she was fairly quiet. But the point is, there are more First Ladies than just the American. And, thank you for following my blog, even if people don't always agree with me. :-)

DUTA, LOL. Now there, you see? An opinion from someone from another country -- most of the First Ladies do resemble the neighbor next door.

Dee, I don't disagree with you. The point of my post is that at the G20 summit, there were 19 other well-educated, attractive women as well. And actually, I thought Michelle hugging the Queen was sort of sweet. That didn't bother me at all. The Queen often looks as if she needs a good hug. I just don't get all the "hype" over Michelle Obama being a fashion icon. Sorry, but I don't.

Judi, I don't know the woman, so I neither like nor dislike her. I think, as with her husband, time will tell... I just don't think she is particularly attractive or a "fashion icon". There are so many other First Wives who are more so.

scarlethue said...

I like Michelle. I like her more than her husband actually. She's super educated, intelligent, and a spit-fire too, so I hear. Much better that the media make a celebrity out of her than another Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan!! I'd much rather my daughters (if I had any) have her as a role model.

But I do hate that the media focuses on her clothes so much. She's an educated, modern, empowered woman, and they're drowning her in fashion critiques. I'm ready for her to find her place in the White House, get her issues in line, and do some good work. Then maybe, just maybe, they'll pay as much attention to her words as they do her dresses.

Arley said...

Twice in one week Jo, you really know how to egg on a sore subject....lol. I have little to no respect for either of the Obamas'. The day Michelle Obama said she had never been proud of our country (during the election) was the day I decided to vote 100% for John McCain. (Not to mention the fact that he was a close friend of my Grandfathers)

Michelle Obama is no Barbara or Laura Bush. Her fashion sense is awful. (Half the outfits she wears makes her butt look bigger than it already is). I do like that she is trying to keep things as normal as possible for the girls, but one positive out of a hand full of negitives doesn't win my respect. That is just my opinion....

Veronica said...

following on from Dee's comment back to Leslie (quote "P.S. Oh, dear, Leslie! It wasn't a hug at all. The queen smiled and all was well. No walls fell!") - perhaps more to the point is that no heads fell either :-D Warm wishes, Vxx

Jo said...

Scarlethue, I agree with you completely. Why doesn't the media focus on who she is, rather than what she wears? To be honest, I hardly hear anything about her, except that her arms are "toned". *sigh* How superficial is that!

Arley, I think Michelle Obama is rather ordinary looking, and the media should focus on who she is, and what her abilities are, and not try to make her a fashion icon -- whiche she is not. Your grandfather was a friend of McCain's? Goodness!

Veronica, *LOL* Isn't it funny how such a little thing can cause such a kerfuffle? I think the Queen actually appreciated a bit of a hug.

Deedee said...

She's bright, well-educated, a mother of two little kids and young, so therein lies her appeal. She has charisma and exudes a caring spirit. I think she would be the first one to say that she is just an ordinary person. She's down-to-earth, shops at the same stores we do and is the polar opposite of snob. How many upper crust folk can you say that about? It's the media that makes the Jackie O. comparisons and blathers on about the fashion icon crap. She's just doing her best to fill the position and do what's expected of her.

Paula Slade said...

(IMHO) I think the Obama's are a breath of fresh air! It's no longer business as usual - domestically or internationally. And, as far as Michelle's fashion sense, I think she's carving out a niche for herself by being herself. In a media-hungry world that reports on nuance, when journalists are not privy to all the behind-the-scenes moments,their collective commentary gives the world something to wag about.

TheChicGeek said...

I agree with you. I don't see her as a "fashion icon." She's a nice, intelligent and pretty lady; fashion icon...Not!

The media always tries to influence our opinions. They say what they want us to believe and unfortunately, in my opinion, people don't think for themselves and just jump on the band wagon.

jackc50 said...

your'e right, we shouldn't bestow magical properties on ordinary people....like your'e queen. it is a hard job to be normal in but give her a chance.jc

Jo said...

DeeDee, yes, that's my point. I don't understand the media hype.

Paula, I think some of the media reporting has been a bit over-the-top, though. I don't understand it.

TheChicGeek, yes, it really is the cult of celebrity, isn't it?

Jackc50, I don't think it's a matter of giving her a chance so much as not "worshiping" her, as so many people seem to do. I don't understand that.

Arley said...

Jo- I agree, the media does focus on her wardrobe more than anything else, but the average person that voted for the Obamas' doesn't care about the veggie garden she started at the White House or her interest in supporting our troops and their families, they are more interested in what she will wear to the next public outing. Makes you kind of wonder where this country is headed in the years to follow.

My family is from AZ and my Grandfather was a huge Republican spokes person for both Barry Goldwater and McCain. (When he was just in the Senate) They were both in WW2 and shared a lot of stories. I grew up knowing both of them quite well! So I admit I have a soft spot in my heart for the man!

Carol E. said...

I love both the Obamas. It is a thrill to have strong, intelligent, caring people representing our country. Michelle seems very genuine and true to herself, a good mom, and very determined. I love how she is bringing attention to some issues that have been ignored for far too long.. such as schools in Washington, D.C. and encouraging children of color to achieve. She's the bomb! You can see from all of these responses that you have touched a chord of some kind! Michelle O. is having an effect on people whether they love her or prefer the Bush ladies. (Really? Barbara Bush was OK, but Laura? Give me a break. She smiles at her husband sweetly, and she uses up oxygen.)

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Wow-you sure can stir it up! I think Michelle is a better speaker than her husband. That being said I could really care less what the woman wears. In our current economy I would think we all would have more important issues on our mind...... but that's just me.

Ruth D~ said...

No flak from this American. Too much fuss over a person. And who cares what they wear, or how they do their hair? Spare me!

Lover of Life said...

I think it's because she wears clothes that do not cost a fortune, has been involved in whatever community she has lived in (including Washington DC), has a Harvard degree, and worked as a hospital administrator before the election. She also puts her family first. All these attributes are important to most Americans. As for the rest of the world - ?

Jo said...

Arley, yes! That is my point. I would prefer to know more about her. But she is not a fashion icon. You have an interesting family history!

Carole E. "You can see from all of these responses that you have touched a chord of some kind!" Oh, yes. :-) I tend to do that sometimes. *sigh* I never learn... However, the media coverage of her at the G20 summit was a bit over the top!

Kathy, "In our current economy I would think we all would have more important issues on our mind...... but that's just me." I agree completely.

Ruth, oh, goodness yes. It's completely and utterly insane!

LoverOfLife, she has a degree from Harvard, but on her visit to France today, all the media coverage was about what she wore. Not her attributes, but what she wore. And I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I just don't...

If you read this post again, this is not about Michelle Obama's attributes, education, etc., etc., whether or not she is a good wife, mother, etc., etc. It is about the fact that she is not a fashion icon. Period.

Lorna said...

Michelle O said some unkind things about America and I believe that she was sincere. Given that, it is hard to cotton to her, and first of all, I do not find her attractive.

I was not wild about Jackie Kennedy, but she never spoke ill of our country. And while I am not wild about that Every-hair-in-place look, I cannot deny she was chic, well dressed, and always appropriate to the occasion.

Michelle Obama is ...... well......... way down low on my list.


~Lorna

kat said...

Michelle Tops my list!

and I know enough about my country's history to very often be ashamed of policies and choices our government and our people have made....

but that my country (and fellow citizens) strive to perfect itself makes me really proud :-) really.

Etta said...

I love Michelle! I think she is genuine and the smarter of the two. But I also loved the Carters. Good for you for speaking your mind though. You are a brave woman. Next, I expect, you will take on Oprah! ;)

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