Saturday, October 11, 2014

First Ladies

Here is and interesting article from TIME titled "From Eleanor to Michelle:The Inside Scoop on First Lady Fashion." I've always found the role of the First Lady interesting, they are so publicized even though it is their husbands who chose the role for them.  I think that the great attention put on First Ladies, and their fashion in particular, draws away from what they should actually be known for. Many people know Nancy Reagan for her red dresses, but do you know that she also started the "Just Say No" campaign?

I'm not going to lie, I love seeing what new J Crew sweater Michelle has, but I think that for these women to have the respect that they deserve there should be a greater emphasis on their work.  Below is a link to"A Brief History of First Ladies and Their Causes."


  1. I stumbled upon another article on first ladies (on the Atlantic). This one talks about Lady Bird Johnson as the first modern first lady and sadly neglects Eleanor.

  2. I am also curious about the role of the first lady. I actually did know that Nancy Reagan started the "Just Say No" campaign. I also know that Michelle Obama launched a campaign "Let's Move". What I find interesting about these campaigns is that they focus on children and issues that mothers care about. What I found most incredible about Eleanor is that she did not limit her interests to things women cared about, but rather focused on issues that concerned all Americans. Eleanor did not care about what women were supposed to care about, she simply took up the causes she thought needed attention.

    1. I think you are right on about how First Ladies choose interests that mothers care about. Additionally, must campaigns from First Ladies are very non-controversial -- no one is really going to argue that the "Let's Move" campaign is bad and that we should keep kids obese.

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  4. My grandma used to say that she voted for President Bush because "well that Laura Bush, she's something." (I remember her and my mother having a quite a few lively disagreements over this premise). The First Lady has a unique role in the American political sphere and I think we would agree that there is an overemphasis on the fashion/physical appearance of the first lady. Whenever I think of First Lady and fashion, I always think of Jackie O. Even today, she is still remembered for her fashion sense. In fact most articles about her today are about her fashion sense. Personally, I agree with Michelle and believe that memorializing First Ladies for fashion alone tis a problem.


    Also if anyone has a NYTimes subscription, here is an interesting article from 1960 on the First Lady's fashion sense

    Also, on the subject of the fashion of women in power. Forbes published this article, which I found to be offensive but would love to hear more perspectives from the class:

  5. I completely agree that first ladies should be memorialized for more than their fashion choices. However, I do think that this debate is really demonstrative of the dichotomy women find themselves in of on the one hand having to be a pretty face while on the other hand having to be trailblazers. If they do too much they're "a threat to gender roles" but if they don't do enough they're not politically valuable.

  6. I've also been frustrated with the way First Ladies have always been characterized by what they wear. This tradition seems to have global implications too because I see North Korea's First Lady, Suljoo Lee, using fashion to establish an image and become a "trendsetter". To me, it seemed a little out-of-context because fashion hasn't really been something that was in the center of North Koreans' lives. It looked like they were just trying to mirror Western practices.


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