First lady’s right to bare arms

By Molly Kearney
March 26, 2009

Shannon Keough

First ladies. Are they meant to define a nation by their clothing or by their actions?

Recently, our newest first lady Michelle Obama caused quite a stir by appearing in her official portrait in a sleeveless black Michael Kors dress.

This little incident has now become known as “sleevegate.” Now, really I do not care what her husband decides to wear in a picture. She looks fabulous and works out, so why can’t she have the right to bare her toned arms? She’s not hurting my self-esteem by showing some skin, in fact she makes me want to hit the gym and be more like her.

She is not just a first lady, but a mother, a wife, a scholar and successful in her own right. This one image does not convey that Americans are shallow. Many are worried about that, but Obama is a whole lot deeper than her choice of clothing.

Obama is not the first lady to wear a sleeveless dress, but perhaps in this time of great distress, risk should not be taken with fashion. But if she’s interested in fashion and has superb taste, then why not? It’s her life and not that of the American press and public.

Style is learned, and in that aspect I feel that Obama took style cues from former first lady Jackie Kennedy.

Kennedy practically lived in sleeveless shift dresses. If it was appropriate in the modest ’60s, than why not today? If anyone was to compare an image of Obama and Kennedy the similarities would be evident, obviously she pulls from Kennedy’s style which was appropriate then and why not now?

While I was Googling images of her offensive dress, Kennedy of course showed up. Many have compared her to Kennedy in style and poise. In an article I read recently, one even claimed that the Obama family is the second coming of Camelot.

President Obama represents Camelot with his charm and Mrs. Obama with her graceful and sophisticated style. In that sense I most certainly agree, each of them inspire hope and new ideas in America.

One must remember it was not like Obama’s outfit was so outrageous, it was a simple tasteful little black dress, one of the most classic elements of style.

Why should she be given grief? It’s not like she stepped out in the typical college uniform of Uggs, a North Face fleece jacket and some Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatpants.

This brings us to style. Who is to judge? Everyone has their own taste. Michelle Obama has a quirky and classic twist to her own style. She knows what she likes and what looks good on her and most importantly what flatters her body. That dress, is certainly flattering.

I personally love her style. That fact that she has been seen in H&M, Gap and J-Crew-my standard go-to stores-really pleases me. She mixes high end with reasonable pieces and always looks good. Now, no one has to like her style but in the world today, her budget conscious pieces must be admired.

I feel her choice of the little black dress was not meant to offend. It was supposed to allow her to relate to the people. Everyone can own a smart dress no matter the price. The sleeveless aspect allows us to see she works hard to take care of herself and is ready to work hard for America. We sure do need that.

I for one don’t understand the controversy, it’s just a dress. If anything its just plain jealousy. In today’s society, there is no reason why a woman can’t wear a sleeveless dress.

This portrait will be forever remembered in history and it should not be remembered for what she was not wearing.

So as the common saying goes if you’ve got it flaunt it. So Michelle Obama, go ahead and flaunt it!

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Molly Kearney

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