Kathleen Parker: Michelle Obama's wings

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: February 28, 2013
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Cute, fun-loving, perky were not adjectives that sprang to mind when Michelle became a household word four years ago. That was then. Michelle Obama obviously has decided to have some fun.

Thus, recently, she joined Jimmy Fallon in a viral pas de deux titled, “The Evolution of Mom Dancing.” Sunday night she crashed the biggest party on television — the Academy Awards — to announce the best picture winner.

Reactions have been mixed from the moment Jack Nicholson introduced her: Should she have done it? Is it too frivolous in these dire times for the first lady, bedecked in sequined splendor, to be participating in such self-congratulatory frivolity? Too much exposure? Too much … too much? As usual, the responses tend to break down along party lines.

Conflicting feelings

We have such conflicting feelings about first wives in an era when women do it all, including, eventually, becoming president. We want our first lady to be first a lady — a delicate balance between enjoying one's attractiveness without being too sexy.

We want our first ladies to be intelligent but not aggressively so. Supportive but not fawning. Politic but not political. We mostly want them not to embarrass us — and this will be the same for the first husband when he arrives.

To most of the country, Michelle has passed muster thus far. Her youthful health and fitness are inspiring. She and the camera adore each other, though some of us miss her Jackie Kennedy period — the black Armani sheath with a double strand of pearls, hair brushed back to reveal her best feature — an arched, intelligent brow line. Why cover it up?

The answer may be as simple as sometimes a first lady just wants to have fun. For certain, Michelle Obama is the star of her own movie.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP