Yesterday we told you about former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visiting the White House for the unveiling of their official White House portraits. And while the news of paintings of two Black faces taking up permanent residence on the White House walls was a big enough deal, it seems that the real story of the day was about Michelle Obama’s hairstyle for the event.
I can say with confidence that this is the first time ever in American history a First Lady has worn braids to an official White House event. And that fact was not lost on those who took to Twitter to show the former First Lady some love.
“I am out here living for @MichelleObama’s braids,” tweeted TV Host Joy-Ann Reid. “Also the lashes! Ok now on to more important things. The portraits!!”
USA TODAY Columnist Sophia A. Nelson cosigned Joy’s endorsement, tweeting, “I LOVE that @MichelleObama has braids in her hair!! I love it!! #OfficialPortrait.”
But I can also say with confidence that whether she knew it or not, Mrs. Obama made a powerful statement with the way she chose to wear her hair on her return to her former residence. As states around the country work to pass versions of the Crown Act, which prohibits discrimination in schools and the workplace on the basis of hair style or texture, Mrs. Obama just represented Black culture in the most beautiful way and gave us all permission to proudly show off our hairstyles to the world.
It’s not lost on me that in 2022, Black people are still fighting for the right to wear their hair naturally. And as we are being asked to conform to a white standard of beauty, thank you, Mrs. Obama for being unapologetically Black.