Richson: A new kind of First Lady


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Even if your relationship with your mom or dad is Rory and Lorelai Gilmore status, you can probably think of some habit or thing that your parent has done that annoys you or that you know your friends just wouldn’t “get.” For me, it’s that my dad somehow finds toe rings inappropriate or that my mom has in-depth conversations with our dog. But imagine that your family was continually in the national political spotlight, and there was nothing you could do about it.

You stand by and watch as people are free to tear your mother apart, and suddenly the perceptions of your mother’s personality aren’t just about your family’s quirks … the personality in question is supposed to uphold the traditional position that is being the first lady of the United States.

Michelle Obama, who has been a consistent face in the push to fight obesity and unhealthy eating, particularly in kids, recently garnered some laughs — whether of an approving or derisive nature — for her “Turnip for What” video promoting vegetable consumption set to the poetry of none other than modern rapper Lil Jon’s latest hit.

I watched a few seconds of the video but was forced to abandon this endeavor because of what some might call secondhand embarrassment … not that I didn’t think the video conveyed a great message, but because I knew the scrutiny about their mother that Michelle’s daughters would be subject to hearing.

I think it’s great for the first lady to step out as more than a caricature of a political party’s platform. It is refreshing to see a first lady as more than a human bobble head with perfect teeth and a seemingly infinite pantsuit and pearls collection. Not only is it cool (for lack of a better word) to see Michelle in the embarrassing-mom light, the video is representative of the fact that Michelle is … shocker … a person with a sense of humor.

It was a given that Michelle critics were going to emerge with comments about a lack of class or the ways which they feel she has embarrassed our country. But the way I see it, the only true embarrassment is that we still expect a first lady to be nothing more than an expert at how to simultaneously smile toothily and execute a flawless swivel wave.

Healthy eating is a hotbed issue in our country, and if it takes a Lil Jon song to get kids to question why their parents have never shoved Brussels sprouts down their throats, then so be it. Mechanisms of reaching young, future voters are constantly evolving, so toning down the stuffiness a bit cannot possibly be all that detrimental. Not to mention, turnips got their rare 15 minutes of fame.

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