First lady Michelle Obama is one of seven cover stars for T, the New York Times style magazine’s “The Greats” issue. Obama, photographed in black-and-white portrait style, looks all kinds of gorgeous on the cover, with sleek hair, perfectly shaped brows, and triangle earrings. The 52-year-old looks as radiant as ever. Her skin is smooth and flawless, and her makeup has an air of sultry but authoritative glam, raising the question of how she has managed to not age at all after eight stressful years in the White House. A follow-up piece on her skin care regimen is definitely necessary, please and thank you!
For the accompanying article, T tapped writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, actress Rashida Jones, feminist icon Gloria Steinem, and writer Jon Meacham to reflect on Obama’s impact on America during President Obama’s tenure.
One particular theme that ran throughout the piece was the gracious way the mother of two handled the intense scrutiny of her — and still proved to people that she wasn’t the person the media tried to make her out to be. “Because she said what she thought, and because she smiled only when she felt like smiling, and not constantly and vacuously, America’s cheapest caricature was cast on her: the Angry Black Woman,” Adichie wrote. “Women, in general, are not permitted anger — but from black American women, there is an added expectation of interminable gratitude, the closer to groveling the better, as though their citizenship is a phenomenon that they cannot take for granted.”
Adichie also mentioned the backlash Michelle got after admitting that seeing the support for her husband during his campaign and seeing people hungry for change made her proud to be an American for “the first time in [her] adult life.”
“For me, a foreign-raised person who likes America, one of its greatest curiosities is this: that those who have the most reason for dissent are those least allowed dissent,” she wrote.
Steinem was impressed with how the first lady redefined what it means to hold the position. “She managed to convey dignity and humor at the same time, to be a mother of two daughters and insist on regular family dinners, and to take on health issues and a national food industry addicted to unhealthy profits. She did this despite an undertow of bias in this country that subtly questioned everything she did,” Steinem wrote.
Meacham was inspired by the way Michelle rose above the difficulties that often come with her job. “The important thing is that Mrs. Obama, a clear-eyed lawyer, found a way to withstand the scrutiny of the spotlight. In point of fact, she did more than withstand it. To borrow a phrase from William Faulkner, she not only endured it; she prevailed over it.”
Jones points out that one of the most important things Michelle will leave behind is her unique imprint on the White House and her time spent in it — and the fact that the imprint will be hers alone. “Michelle Obama will have her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. And it will be that she was the first first lady to show women that they don’t have to choose. That it’s OK to be everything.”
If anything, the article is a reminder of how much the FLOTUS — whose 64 percent approval rating in August was higher than those of Bill Clinton and Melania Trump — will be missed.