Michelle Obama: from a conservative perspective

Said by a genuine conservative Republican, “For the wife of the president of the US she wears too many sleeveless dresses.”

What would you have replied, supposing you wanted to be civilized, non-alienating?

I wish I had been left speechless. Instead everything I said made it worse. E.g., any knowledge of her arms shows how unseemly her presence has been.

16 thoughts on “Michelle Obama: from a conservative perspective

  1. Civil…hokay.

    “I don’t know why you would say that. Generally, if rather unfortunately, first ladies come for heightened style and fashion scrutiny (which is troubling given how accomplished they typically are). Given this, however, Michelle Obama has received wide praise for her style, which I also personally think is quite elegant, distinctive, and suits her well. You might disagree with her style (e.g., you don’t like sleeveless dresses) but it’s very hard to see how it is that she ever dresses inappropriately.”

    Or something?

  2. It’s sad because I sense that she tries too hard to be appropriate, to cater to conservative tastes, as does Barack too.

  3. I can’t think of anything particularly civil (though P.D.’s response is quite funny!). I heard something like this once from someone who I know is rather bothered by Muslims, and claims it’s because Islamic culture is too controlling of women, just in virtue of being Islamic. In that case I said I found it rather odd and confusing that someone who thinks Islam harms women by controlling their behavior, and particularly their dress, would be interesting in critizing women for not dressing conservatively enough.

  4. I favor the gentle question in this case: “Oh really? Why do you think it’s bad for the president’s wife to wear sleeveless dresses?” If nothing else, this response asks the guy to think a little about why he holds the views he has.

  5. The best response is probably something along the lines of “How so?” But it doesn’t take much to infer that what she or he really meant to say is something to the effect of: The First Lady’s wardrobe choices (either generally or on specific occasions) are somewhat in tension with the proper gravitas of her public role, which the speaker sees as calling for a higher level of sartorial formality and/or modesty than such a sleeveless-dress-heavy wardrobe affords.

    That assertion and its premises are subject to dispute, but it doesn’t seem to be the sort of thing that should leave anyone speechless or in an uncivilised mood.

    Also, it’s not as though any number of pictures of Jackie Kennedy in a sleeveless dress can refute it, so that’s probably pointless.

  6. Nemo, why can’t pics of Jackie refute it? (I clearly need more coffee, I’ve gone from snippy to dull.)

  7. There are great responses here, and I wish I had more time now to comment. I dearly wish I’d thought of the clever #6. #7 employs the best strategy, IMHO. It’s also one that works in any context. i wish I didn’t forget it so often. I think we even had a discussion about it as a great strategy a number of years ago.

    Profbigk, I did admire the Kennedy strategy, but after some time I remembered that the conservatives largely hated all Kennedys, and she made everything worse when she became one of the East Coast liberal intellectual elites.

  8. Profbigk, I guess it comes down to what’s really being asserted (I was just guessing). I meant that pictures of Jackie Kennedy in sleeveless dresses don’t settle the question of whether Michelle Obama’s wardrobe conveys the proper gravitas for a First Lady. After all, some people thought the same thing about Jackie.

  9. 1. my jaw would have dropped china-syndrome-like yet invisible (gulp) with a parallel brain-melt-freeze
    2. ever since i no longer live in the usa, i try to not meet, at all costs, any such kind of people who might say something like this
    3. would wish to come up with something too-witty like @P.D.Magnus
    4. seriously, when will this kind of body-policing stop ?!
    (throwing fist up in the air)

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