I understand why Glamour magazine would want First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover of its upcoming issue. Anything with Michelle associated with it is bound to increase sales and if the women who buy Glamour magazine can get a small dose of the political world alongside the “39 Cutest Holiday Outfits for your Body and Budget,” that can only be a good thing.
But I’m a little troubled by the cover photo Glamour chose. The combination of the styling and how Michelle is posed doesn’t exactly convey a message of “strong, independent person we’ve chosen as a Woman of the Year ” to me. I’m getting more of a “slightly shy girl waiting for her date” vibe.
December is Glamour’s Women of the Year issue and Michelle Obama is interviewed by CBS’ Katie Couric about Michelle’s first year in the White House. This is all good stuff for promotion and empowerment of women, especially in the pages of a fashion magazine. And the inside photo of Michelle Obama and her staff is a great one:
What mother wouldn’t want their daughters (and sons) to see this image of the First Lady and her staff. They look professional and ready to take on the weighty task of working in the White House and helping the First Lady make her agenda to help working families a reality.
But the cover photo keeps giving me pause. It’s not the dress nor is it her infamous “guns.” It’s the pose. The way she is standing with her arms intertwined and her shoulders scrunched forward downplays what Glamour is trying to convey in choosing Michelle Obama as a Woman of the Year. According to the article on Glamour’s blog, the dress is Michelle’s own dress — and what color says power for a Washington woman more than red — but when I look at the photo, the sense I get is more schoolgirl than power player.
The gist of the interview with the First Lady is about role models and the importance of mentoring to her — both how it was important in her own professional life and the pleasure she takes in mentoring others in her current role today.
I don’t get the message of “I’m a mentor and role model” from that photograph.
Maybe I’m making a political mountain out of a fashion mole hill, but Michelle Obama as a Glamour cover girl could have been a real role model moment with a much bigger impact if she was posed in a way that looks a bit more like the inside shot and less like someone waiting under the mistletoe.