Michelle Obama criticized for fashion statement again, yawn

Photo of Michelle Chance writer of this opinion
Michelle Chance
Mesa Legend

Last month, social media erupted after photos surfaced of Michelle Obama not wearing a head scarf during a trip to Saudi Arabia.  Many people online condemned Obama for not “respecting” the cultural customs of another country.  First, foreigners who visit Saudi Arabia, like Obama, are not required to wear a head scarf.  Only female citizens of the country are required to cover up.

So, just stop it with that one.  The fact that Obama made the personal choice to not cover her hair and face is actually considered acceptable by Saudi officials.  So why do we pretend to have such a problem with it?  Oh, that’s right… We are a country who is historically in tune with respecting other people’s cultures, land, and religions, right?  Not in the least.  Oh, the hypocrisy!

What’s more infuriating? It was also “revealed” through various news outlets and social media that before Obama, previous first ladies also chose not to wear scarves; essentially downplaying the subtle yet important resistance to patriarchal control over the appearance and personal rights of women everywhere.

Okay, so she wasn’t the “first” woman to ever do it.  So what?  Obama may not be unveiling the metaphorical head scarf of every oppressed Saudi woman just yet, but what she and other influential women have done is significant nonetheless, despite it not being as “groundbreaking” as story-hungry news outlets and Twitter users wish.

This is not a matter of cultural respect, but a matter of gender equality.  Overall, aren’t we getting bored of the desperate people tweeting out insults about women’s style choices?  Masquerading as a fashion expert on social media will only get you socially arrested for murder of brain cells in the first degree, especially when your arguments are poorly constructed and culturally inaccurate.

Don’t get me wrong.  I support any woman’s fashion statements, whether they are culturally or personally driven: it simply doesn’t matter.  When it is the woman’s choice, her choice should be respected.

However, I do have a problem with people who bully other women for dressing the way they choose.  A woman should not be criticized for something as simple as her clothing, whether she is in a burka or a bikini.

Sadly, we live in a world community where she is harshly judged and condemned for wearing either.  I look forward to the day when an influential woman travels to a country and social media erupts in praise of her political diplomacy efforts, and not her so called “fashion faux pas”.  It’s getting old.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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