Michelle Obama: First Lady of Style
By: George Caroll
First lady Michelle Obama is on the cover of the fashion glossy April issue of “Vogue” magazine. While other presidential first ladies are largely forgotten, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” fitness campaign may be her official cause as first lady, but it will not be her greatest legacy. According to “Vogue” magazine Michelle’s greatest legacy will be permanently redefining the American ideal for femininity, beauty and womanhood, and her appearances in the magazine will be remembered as such. However, Michelle Obama is not the first First Lady to grace the cover of Vogue, that honor goes to Hillary Clinton in 1998. Michelle is not the first African-American woman to appear on the cover.
Contrary to folklore, the first black woman to appear on a “Vogue” cover was not brown-skinned Beverly Johnson but ethnically ambiguous-looking, although African-American, Donyale Luna, who graced the magazine’s British cover eight years before Johnson became the first black cover model for American Vogue in 1974. Donyale Luna became the first cover model of ethnic origin for Vogue, for an issue entitled “Eye on the International Collections”.
Unlike a model who may be hot today and gone tomorrow, Michelle Obama has emerged as American fashion’s most bankable face of the last half decade. Few models enjoy one “Vogue” cover, let alone two. Even fewer black women who aren’t models land two covers – with A-list stars such as Beyoncé and Halle Berry, both of whom are light-skinned, being notable exceptions.
The First Lady seems to have settled comfortably into her pop-culture status as a fashion icon. Years from now, few will remember what President Obama said in his most recent State of the Union address but some little girl will come across a copy of Michelle Obama’s Vogue magazine covers, presenting her in all of her dark-brown-skinned, full-lipped glory, and see herself and know that she is as beautiful as an American first lady. Almost as important, some people who don’t look like that little girl will have learned to appreciate her brown beauty, too, thanks to the First Lady of Style… Michelle Obama.