Michael Kors arnotts

May 3, 2017

A tradition of sexism”I’ve often said,” says Cobb, “about Michelle Obama that people do not have a language to discuss her.”Some of the chatter about the first lady’s arms inadvertently summons the Sapphire stereotype (named after a female character on the “The Amos ‘n’ Andy Show,” which began as a radio show in 1928 before becoming a controversial television program) that defines black women as emasculating and angry, and further suggests that her muscular arms aren’t quite feminine. In a recent New York Times column about the first lady’s arms, Maureen Dowd writes, “It is Michelle who looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff, and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America.”

Beyond playing on racial stereotypes, the focus on Obama’s fashion choices also reflects a sexism that has long been in existence, says Anthony. Despite Clinton’s prestigious law degree and her effort to create health policy when her husband was president, the media often focused on her hair and clothes. Kennedy and Pat Nixon were the first first ladies to graduate from college, says Anthony. But when their husbands battled for the presidency, all the media talked about was how the women dressed.”Those two women in the 1960s were accomplished women,” says Anthony. “Nobody paid attention. It was how they looked, just about the clothes.”‘An oversimplification’It happens to men, too. Former presidential hopeful John Edwards was teased about his hair. People often mention President Obama’s attractiveness, and the blogosphere exploded when he was photographed, taut and muscular, in a swimsuit in Hawaii. But neither topic became a popular obsession, Cobb says.”It’s an oversimplification,” he adds, “of who this woman is as an intellectual, as a role model, as someone with these opinions about service, families, and the work/home balance. We’ve reduced it to what her arms look like and what she’s wearing.”

Mandi Norwood, whose book, “Michelle Style: Celebrating the First Lady of Fashion,” comes out in May, says the first lady’s muscular arms signify something else in this uncertain cultural moment. “Toned arms are one of the few signs of youth,” Norwood says. “When we see our first lady’s arms … they just remind us that we have this very youthful presidency in office. … If nothing else, we hope the strength and passion of youth will get us through these trying times.”

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