The seven avatars that shaped Michelle Obama’s image in first 100 days

April 29th, 2009 - 2:34 pm ICT by ANI  

Oprah Winfrey Washington, Apr 29 (ANI): Ever since Michelle Obama became the First Lady of US, she has been noticed for the many different activities she has taken up, right up to the kitchen garden at the White House.

Americans have seen the First Lady as having Laura Bush’s characteristics, nice, classy and intelligent, but they also see her as being strong, elegant and confident.

“She has come in as a first lady who is dynamic, who is a professional and strong, but there is something about the way she is handling the issues that make her seem like an everywoman,” quoted Michelle D. Bernard, of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, as saying.

“She shows that you can go to Princeton, you can go to Harvard and work at University of Chicago and still be a spouse and not be diminished. She’s made it clear that she is mom in chief and that she’s also incredibly talented,” Bernard said.

There have been seven events in Michelle’s life that have helped to form an image of her that the public like and love so well.

On Inauguration Day, daughters Malia and Sasha were well behaved and excited, but not too excited, and Michelle was beaming.

“On that day, moms saw in her a piece of themselves. Someone you could run into at the grocery store, or see her at the girls’ schools, meeting with their teachers,” said Susan Kane, editor in chief of Parenting magazine.

“She shared her family’s biggest moment with the world and every step of the way left America with a sense that her family was in this together, not just dad leading mom leading the kids,” Kane said.

When “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” plush dolls, from the same company that made Beanie Babies, began selling like hot cakes, Michelle’s office issued a terse response, calling it “inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes”.

“When she got upset about the dolls, it resonated with the idea that her priorities seem to be maintaining normalcy rather than being a celebrity,” said Michael Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Center.

“Most people can’t identify with holding state dinners or speaking to groups. We can identify with the choices that parents make, and that is how people connect, through a shared experience. That moment stood out,” Dimock said.

Even the way she dressed came into notice spoke of a woman whose style ran from suburban-mom-friendly Gap to trendy designers and everything in between.

“It said, this is a whole new first lady,” said Mandi Norwood, author of the upcoming “Michelle Style: Celebrating the First Lady of Fashion.”

“I can’t imagine Oprah Winfrey being shoved to one side by anybody else except Michelle Obama,” she said.

Michelle had to figure out just how political she should be as first lady, and after an early foray into campaign-style stumping, she decided to take a back seat.

“I’d tell him, ‘Hey, buddy, you’re the president, get down to the Oval Office and call some leaders.’ You know, that’s the beauty of my job. I’m married to the president, and he has to worry about all that,” she said, outlining what the president would do.

“And then I’d go back to sleep and ask him how it turned out when I woke up the next morning,” she added.

The First Lady made good her promise and visited Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where she read to kids, hung out with soldiers over lunch, and met privately with families.

She even promised to hang a picture of a soldier departing for war in her East Wing office - a way to show that she and her husband cared about the soldiers he was sending to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“She was the kindest person, someone that you could sit down on a couch and talk with for hours, and she would be interested in what you were saying. That surprised me. She came in like a neighbour,” said Joanne Chavonne, founder of Fayetteville Cares, a military families support group.

The next item on her agenda was having a garden at the White House, which Michelle insists kids will have a role in, and she even said that the garden must not be some weed-filled patch, unfit for viewing by visitors.

Her European trip was very well noticed, especially when the First Lady visited the Queen for tea and ended up giving her an affectionate pat on the back.

Though public display of affection was not allowed, Buckingham Palace said the interaction was mutual, and not a breach of protocol.

And on a visit to a girls’ school, Michelle made quite an impression with the younger ladies, and they with her.

“When I saw her there, my eyes popped,” Brenda Mensah, 16, told a London paper.

“And then she gave me this encouraging smile, and my confidence just went up, it went skyrocketing. I’m still flying now,” she added. (ANI)

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