Michelle Obama claimed she changed her “natural” hairstyle while she was the first lady so she wouldn’t intimidate the American people. Well, many Americans didn’t take kindly to her remarks and had something to say to her.
Michelle Obama felt she needed to set the record straight about her time as the first lady. During a speaking engagement at the Warner Theatre in Washington DC, she sat down with Ellen DeGeneres to promote her new book: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. Obama claimed Americans weren’t ready for an African-American first lady with “natural hair.”
Obama said she decided to straighten her hair because the American people were “just getting adjusted” to having a Black first family, reported the Washington Post. Although it would have been easier to style her hair in braids, Obama recalled thinking, “Nope, they’re not ready for it,” referring to the American public.
Fearing her hair would be used as a distraction and politicized, Michelle Obama claimed she decided to straighten her hair so the administration could focus on its agenda instead of having to “answer racist questions” about her hair. “Let me keep my hair straight,” Obama recalled thinking. “Let’s get healthcare passed.”
The former first lady used her husband as an example of why she felt her “natural hair” wouldn’t be accepted. “They tripped out when Barack wore a tan suit,” she said referring to Barack Obama’s fashion choice back in 2014. “The great indignity, the scandal of the Obama administration.” However, on her wedding day in 1992, Michelle Obama wore her hair “straight back.” Hairstylists say for African-Americans and others born with “natural hair” this is achieved with chemicals called “straighteners.”
Michelle Obama also claimed that hairstyles are another hurdle facing Black women in the workplace as natural hairstyles can be criticized as less professional. “We deal with it – the whole thing about, ‘Do you show up with your natural hair?’” she said. “That’s the African American experience.”
Obama said she’s glad she avoided such brutal scrutiny by sticking to the status quo on hair. “Remember when she wore braids? Those are terrorist braids! Those are revolutionary braids!” she joked about what her critics might have said. She also posted a picture on Instagram with her infant daughter Sasha from 2001, seven years before Barack Obama ran for the presidency.
Many Americans were taken aback by Michelle Obama’s remarks. “We didn’t care about your skin or hair color until you and your husband triggered unnecessary and manufactured racial tensions,” posted Dana on Twitter. “That is the Obama legacy!” Another wrote: “She’s stuck on the color of one’s skin, not the content of our hearts. Sad.”
“AMERICA VOTED FOR YOUR HUSBAND,” posted one social media user. “Americans knew what your hair looked like- YOU are not ready for your hair as evidenced by your extensions and straightening.” Another criticized: “We weren’t ready for a FLOTUS who hadn’t been proud of her country until her husband was elected president.”
We weren’t ready for a FLOTUS who hadn’t been proud of her country until her husband was elected president.
— 🍊AllAmericanWesties🍊🐶🐾🇺🇸✈️ (@GotWesties) November 17, 2022
Twitter user “Ms. Byshi” wrote: “Hard to believe someone in a high public office could be so full of their self to think the public at large cared that much about her hairstyle.” Another replied: “She is so annoying – sounds like Oprah – pampered victims pumping division.” Twitter user Debbie Crimmins posted: “I wasn’t ready for a First Lady who was only proud of her country after her husband was elected President. I didn’t give a damn about her hair or the color of her skin. What I do give a damn about is that she, and her husband, divided this country.”
“Playing victim and oppressed again. Just stop,” wrote another social media user. “Michelle left out the word WHITE Americans in that thinly disguised accusation that most Americans are racists,” concluded one Twitter user. In terms of personal maintenance and scheduling during her husband’s administration, Obama had about 25 staffers, an unprecedented number for a first lady,” National Review reported. Her successor, Melania Trump, was estimated to have about ten, which was then smaller than any first lady’s staff, Democratic or Republican, in decades.