Michelle Obama’s scary hair?

Of course, the first thing the press looks at is whether a potential first lady is scary.   Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, whoever, it is the first question everyone wants to ask.  Right?  Well, probably not unless you are a feminist with an agenda (and we know who that was) or you have unprocessed black hair.  The hair problem is the message in this article:

[According to] Rose Weitz, a professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University,”Part of being a first lady is projecting an image that will best help their husbands succeed.”

Obama, who sometimes wears her dark shoulder-length hair flipped at the ends, often is compared to Jacqueline Kennedy, considered by many to be the most stylish first lady in history.

Her youthful look is a stark contrast to Laura Bush, whose traditional side-parted hairstyle, similar to that of Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford and Rosalynn Carter, reflects her image as a supportive mother, teacher and librarian, hair experts said.

While Obama’s hairstyle gives her a polished, professional look, she faces a unique challenge as an African-American. She must project an image that is non-threatening to whites.

“She has to deal with white people’s stereotypes of a black woman,” Weitz said. “She has to project an image the public will find acceptable, comfortable and appropriate.”

What is the most depressing thought here?

A first lady’s image must be constructed to help her husband succeed.  (Another reason to wait with baited breath for a first gentleman.)

So constructed, the image must not be challenging.

Unprocessed black hair on a first lady would be too challenging.

Thanks to Womanist Musings via feministing.

8 thoughts on “Michelle Obama’s scary hair?

  1. (Another reason to wait with baited breath for a first gentleman.)

    Or to do away with this pseudo-royal institution entirely. No one looks at Prime Ministers’ wifes the way we do those of Presidents.

  2. I almost think the scaries thing there is the idea that there exist “hair experts.”

    Well, no, not really, but it does depress me.

  3. Betty, I agree! I wonder – has every aspect of our lives become a matter of expertise? So just about everything has a right and wrong and to get it really right costs a lot.

    Kuri, I’m wondering whether that would really help. Cultures with royalty may by now have matured enough to be able to deal with real people. It would be interesting to explore whether the US could survive a Princess Di as first lady. The next movie with Hugh Grant – a Charles-like figure haplessly elected president of the US and still pining for his old love, while his wife charms the world with her celebrity personality.

  4. I am impressed with how good Michelle Obama’s hair always looks. She must carry a mini flat iron in her purse to smooth out any fly aways. But any stylist will tell you, all that heat will cause breakage eventually. So Michelle should give her hair a rest and pull a Beyonce and get a weave.

  5. I’m really concerned that society is putting too much focus on Michelle as the First Lady. We all know that this is different for our country to have Blacks as the prime leaders but it’s a good thing. No one has to figure us out or study us as people do animals or something like that. They are human beings who are black. I really believe that if they keep being themselves, they’ll be ok. It doesn’t make sense for them to change up just so that “whites” can be comfortable, otherwise Obama’s win would be trivial. They are not puppets! I’m actually excited to see Michelle in her zone. She is beautiful and her hair is awesome. Let these people be who they are…If she wears a pony-tail, cool…if she gets some braids, more power to her…that is our roots and we should NOT downplay. As long as she keeps it classy, I’ll be proud.

  6. Heg, did you notice this quote from your link:

    Ex-minister Peter Kilfoyle told the newspaper the hairdressing bill was twice what he had spent on his election campaign in the Liverpool Walton seat.

    “This is the problem. We are almost accepting by stealth a First Lady,” he told the Times.

    Ms. Wade, there is an alarming concentration on difference. At the same time, apparently some people are claiming Obama is not really black. He’s bi-racial instead!

    Miss Theda, thanks; you comment remind me to suggest people look at the article from womanist musing that is linked to in the post; she’s informative about what MO has been doing to achieve the look.

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