In a piece at the Washington Post, Robin Givhan challenges several widely held beliefs about first lady Michelle Obama that have stood the test of time:
1. Michelle Obama is the most fashion-friendly first lady.
Obama has been a pronounced and polished advocate for American style, seamlessly moving from custom-made evening gowns to mass-market fare. She has made the fashion industry swoon with her willingness to embrace the work of some of its most eccentric players, such as Thom Browne , and its lesser-known talents, such as Isabel Toledo and Duro Olowu. One 2010 study in the Harvard Business Review estimated she could boost a company’s stock 16 percent by wearing its clothes.
Yet other first ladies have had more personal relationships with designers — and opened the White House doors to them in a way Obama has not. Jacqueline Kennedy designated Oleg Cassini her official dressmaker, and the style they created inspired generations of women and designers …
2. She is a food tyrant of Bloombergian intolerance.
Her focus on the nation’s eating habits has led to complaints that she wants to deprive Americans of dessert. But Obama repeatedly expresses her belief in moderation, talks about her affection for French fries and unapologetically went in for a 1,700-calorie splurge at Shake Shack in 2011 …
3. Her legacy will be Let’s Move or Joining Forces.
Fighting childhood obesity and supporting military families have been the first lady’s most formal and most publicized campaigns. But the guiding principle of her tenure has been a belief in youth mentoring and “paying it forward.”
4. She hates Princeton.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s senior thesis, “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” was exhumed from the archives of the university and fueled the perception that she detested it … She hasn’t delivered an address at her alma mater, but she has upheld its informal motto: “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”
5. She represents an unusual success story.
Her story—as a successful wife, mother and professional who happens to be black—is not unique. The Labor Department estimates that by age 46, almost 70 percent of black men and women have, at some point, been married. According to the last census, 45 percent of black children are raised in two-parent households. More than one-third of employed black women work in professional fields.
Read more at the Washington Post.