Michelle's Post-Title IX Arms

Remember when I wrote about Michelle Obama’s butt? It was back in December and I had just read an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times that was written by Erin Aubry Kaplan, who introduced the piece saying, “I'm a black woman who never thought I'd see a powerful, beautiful female with a body like mine in the White House. Then I saw Michelle Obama -- and her booty!”

Well, not that I’m shocked or anything, but her butt was merely the first of many body parts which have been or will be dissected by the media. During the Inauguration celebrations Tuesday night, when she emerged for her first dance as First Lady with the President, she looked stunning. “Her dress! Her dress!” TV commentators screamed. xThen one commentator brought up her arms, calling attention to the fact that, unlike the upper bodies of so many First Ladies before her, Michelle’s biceps and shoulders and lean and strong. They are, in this commentator’s words, “Post-Title IX arms.”

Post-Title IX arms look like this, BTW.

And like this.
This is not the first time her arms have been discussed. A November AP story begins “Many women recoil at the thought of baring their arms in sleeveless dresses or blouses, but not Michelle Obama — half of the fabulously fit new first couple.

Both President-elect Barack Obama and the future first lady have exercise routines that would put most people to shame. Michelle Obama used to join a friend for 4:30 a.m. workouts, and Barack Obama usually starts his day in the gym.

Michelle Obama has been interviewed on television, graced the cover of Newsweek and hit the campaign trail, all with her buff arms bared.”

Clearly, she works out. She’s athletic and fit (I just read in Chicago Magazine that while she used to wake up for those 4:30am workouts, she now meets with a trainer later in the day). Plus, she has two young daughters and I’m sure she’s done her fair share of lifting them up over the past decade, contributing to buff mommy biceps.

At first blush, all the focus on her upper body (versus her brains, for example) made me mad. But the more I write about it, I realize it could be flipped around and looked at from a positive light – she can serve as a wonderful fitness role model for young girls and women across the nation – and the world. She is such a high-profile figure and she exercises, stays strong and places an emphasis on taking good care of her body without being too thin. That could go a long way towards inspiring others to do the same. I suppose if she were throwing back burgers and fries and had a BMI pushing into "obese," we'd be seeing all sorts of coverage of that, too, and what kind of example would that be setting? Her husband also does a pretty damn good job, always being photographed emerging from a mystery gym or shooting hoops. He just has to quit the ciggies for good and he’ll be poised to model shirtless on the cover of Men’s Health.

Your thoughts?

PS Speaking of moms…longtime Weighting Game/NeverSayDiet reader Dara Chadwick, author of the forthcoming (and fabulously-titled) You'd Be So Pretty If... Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies -- Even When We Don't Love Our Own, and Shape magazine's 2007 Weight-Loss Diary columnist, recently interviewed moi. The Q&A is posted at www.youdbesoprettyif.com. Check her out – her insightful mother-daughter body image angle is fantastic and refreshing.

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