“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still,” said President Obama in his second inaugural address.
Apparently, the real “star” of the 57th Presidential Inauguration was Michelle Obama. The American public, forever enamored with pomp and circumstance and “all the pretty people,” were predictably focused on Mrs. Obama's attire and new hairstyle. Just this once I'm going to step outside my comfort zone and jump on the bandwagon in praise of Michelle Obama.
It must be extremely difficult to live life in a fish bowl, but Mrs. Obama consistently handles it well, and the festivities of the 57th Presidential Inauguration were no exception. Our First Lady and her daughters were well dressed, stylish, composed. In her red inaugural gown (created by young designer Jason Wu), Mrs. Obama personified grace and represented the United States with dignity. And for the record, 74% of those polled by essence.com voted in favor of Michelle Obama's bangs.
That being said, I do not comprehend society's “beautiful people” preoccupation, that same fascination that once transformed Jacqueline Kennedy into the Queen of Camelot or Lady Diana Spencer into the Peoples' Princess. While I admired Princess Diana (Mrs.Kennedy was before my time), and detect similar poise in Michelle Obama, I never once forgot that Princess Diana was human - as is Mrs. Obama - not a paper doll or stiff fashion mannequin. If Mrs. Obama wants to sport bright purple gloves, wear bangs, or roll her eyes at House Speaker John Boehner, she should be free to do so without setting the internet on fire. (Quite interesting that Mrs. Obama was unfavorably criticized for her reaction to Boehner without the benefit of audio of Boehner's comments.) Reaction to fashion and celebrity is commonplace, but no matter how blurred the line between celebrity and politics, we still should not judge a book by its cover. Nobody is perfect. Nobody. We've placed the presidential fish bowl on a mighty high pedestal indeed.
We move forward now into President Obama's second term. Mrs. Obama's red inaugural gown will be retired to the Smithsonian. She'll rise tomorrow, comb out her bangs, pull on her J.Crew gloves and put one foot in front of the other - like the rest of us.