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Obsession at Inauguration

The long awaited day finally had arrived. Cameramen and press lined the streets, ready to capture the perfect moment. Around a million anxious spectators stood, eyes scouring the scene, ready to witness history. International viewers changed their channels to rest on Washington.

Everyone twiddled their thumbs, waiting. For what, you may ask. Barack Obama’s first step onto the podium? Beyonce’s performance of the National Anthem? Maybe the President’s second Inaugural Address? No. No. And no. Sadly, it was not the President’s words or hope for a new beginning that captivated many audiences around the world, but instead Michelle Obama’s outfit choice and hair style.

Fashion gurus and press pointed at the iconic figure and talked loudly amongst themselves about the first lady’s style choices. Is it Alexander McQueen? Michael Kors? Rodarte? And look at the hair! Bangs? Yes, bangs! Who styled it? Marvelous, just marvelous. Tweets scattered across the internet and practically instant headlines erupted across the nation: Mrs. O Wows in Ruby Jason Wu, Michelle Obama’s Dress: Victory Red, Hair we go again: Michelle Obama’s bangs.

Let me first put these things on the table. President Obama’s well-articulated and well-written speech did draw the attention of many around the world for its message of renewal. And Mrs. Obama did, in fact, look beautiful, per usual, the haircut being a complement to her already nice-looking face. That said, why is it that focus always falls on the woman’s appearance? Her outfit, her hairstylist, her perfume and makeup? It’s not like this hasn’t been a trend for hundreds and even thousands of years, but when was the last time someone asked where Barack Obama last bought his tailored suit? Or what kind of cologne the President uses? Never. That’s what I thought.

Famous woman figures, particularly first ladies, have been objects of criticism and assessment for some time now. Ever since Dolley Madison stole the show in 1809, the President’s wife has seemingly turned into a position of expectation and trend setting rather than of leadership. Isn’t it a little disconcerting to note the best-known woman figure in the United States is paid attention to most often for her fashion decisions? I believe so.

If I ever stood in Michelle Obama’s position, I can’t say I would know any better way to approach the situation than she herself. Perhaps I would cut off all my hair and wear spiked leather boots just to see how the public would react. Maybe turtle-necks and pearl necklaces would be my plan of action. Who knows? All I can say is that I hope come 2017 a new trend is introduced, one in which style and beauty takes a second hand to intelligence-a style in which the true, inner capabilities of women shine through and permeate the nation’s outward-obsessed society. Maybe for once our nation will live  up to its goal of attending to the “content of one’s character.”

Written by Margaret Sutton’14


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