Just what the Internet needs, another ranting blog-post slamming Obama. But this will be different. Today, I'm going to focus on Michelle. I'm not a tea-party republican, I'm not anti-government. I've even been known to utter once or twice "Hmmm, what's so bad about socialism?" Predictably, I voted for our president, twice. I respect his wife's focus on healthy eating and childhood obesity. So this can be viewed as an inside attack, 'picking on my own.'
Over the past few days, I’ve walked repeatedly past the March issue of "Cooking Light" magazine lying on my coffee table. Each time I saw it, a subconscious thought registered in my head. “That cover-model sure looks a lot like Michelle Obama.” After several passes, I finally picked up the magazine. It was Michelle Obama, sort of. This Michelle Obama was twenty-eight years old. Youthful, smooth skin, completely wrinkle free. It said “Michelle Obama” next to her, so I’m pretty sure it was her.
I flipped to the article, but I didn't read it. I think it was about the importance of family meal time. I just looked at the pictures. Throughout the article there were additional photos of the young woman from the cover of the magazine alongside images of the Michelle I know from TV. The adult. The over-fifty Michelle. The one with wrinkles.
We've all seen Mrs. Obama a thousand times over the past seven or eight years. There isn't a lot of mystery to her. She's fit, she's smart, she's a mom to two teenagers. Her fiftieth birthday milestone last year was heavily reported. What is gained by putting her on the cover of a magazine looking barely older than a college student?
What is gained is more and more women – women and men, actually – comparing themselves to an impossible standard. More adults trying to combat the natural aging process with increasingly drastic interventions. It starts early with make-up, comb-overs and hair dye. And too frequently, it culminates with cosmetic surgery.
All of us grow old. Everyone. Men go bald, hair turns gray. As skin ages, it wrinkles, it blemishes and sags. There is a difference between trying to look your best and trying to turn back the clock. A line that can be easily crossed when engaged in a never ending battle with the effects of time.
Air-brushed magazine covers help perpetuate low self-esteem. Or in many cases, even create the problem. They take our role models, women and men, and alter them so they look better than us. More handsome, more beautiful, and of course, younger They wipe away twenty years with a computer program. And the only way to mimic this in real life is through expensive and potentially dangerous medical procedures.
I feel it is the responsibility of our most public figures to set an example. Age gracefully, age healthfully, but please age. In the real world, Mrs. Obama is doing this. She says she eats well, she certainly exercises. She looks great for the fifty-one year old that she is. By portraying her as a young adult on the cover of Cooking Light magazine, the message to the rest of the over-fifty crowd is we look old, we need to improve. We shouldn't look our age.