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Gender & Sexuality Archive

Roundtable: Michelle O, Beauty, and the Strong Arm of the Media

Karima: Roland Martin hosted a very interesting conversation with four black female actors from TV and film, about the negative criticism Lady Obama receives on her style and body type. The discussion progressed ultimately to black

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Roundtable: 8-Year-Olds in Padded Bras and Thongs, Really?! 

Nichole: Ladies, what do you think of Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to sell push up bikini tops to little girls? Other than, this is ridiculous. I read the recent New York Times profile of Miranda Cosgrove, which in describing tween girl stars'

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Roundtable: Shaken By Sexual Violence

Lucinda: An 11-year-old girl is gang raped by a group of men and boys. It’s captured on cell phones. The authorities begin an investigation just after Thanksgiving, because one of the girl’s classmates tells a teacher about the video.

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Entries in beauty (1)

Wednesday
Mar302011

Roundtable: Michelle O, Beauty, and the Strong Arm of the Media

Karima: Roland Martin hosted a very interesting conversation with four black female actors from TV and film, about the negative criticism Lady Obama receives on her style and body type. The discussion progressed ultimately to black content and images in movies and television and how they're showcased, packaged and presented to the public. My question: is there criticism because Mrs. Obama is a brown-skinned lady built like the typical black woman, the type of black beauty white America quite frankly has not been interested in or is it because she exudes a sensuality that hasn’t been present in the White House since Jackie Kennedy and that is why the first lady is catching so much grief?

Lydia: Honestly, I couldn't bring myself to watch the Limbaugh video and haven't yet watched the Martin clip but I think the connection to Jackie is clear. I don't know that that is the only reason for the criticism. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the some of the primary reasons critics find the need to emasculate her husband-- they are the first black First Lady and President of the United States. Critics try to hit a woman where they think it will hurt most, her body, sense of style, etc. It's also true that the typical black woman's build doesn't fit into what mainstream America says is ideal.

Sheryl: Karima, I think the connection you make between Michelle Obama and Jackie Kennedy is a good one. Like Mrs. Obama today, Jackie Kennedy exuded a youth, vibrancy and sensuality that is not often seen in the White House, and people may be uncomfortable with that image. However, I wouldn’t say that has anything to do with the comments made by Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Limbaugh’s comments are all about race-baiting; that is what he specializes in. In this diatribe, I think he is really telling his mainly white audience—this black woman is not just a concerned parent like you; she is trying to take away your freedom.

The women on the panel bring up the lack of black female images on television; I don’t think I would place as much emphasis on that point either. Tatyana Ali brought up a good point when she connected the critical comments to Mrs. Obama as “the other.” As Lydia mentions, the reason the stories have persisted that President Obama is a Muslim, he is not an American-born citizen, and on and on, is the same reason that Mrs. Obama’s is targeted; as a woman, her appearance is the lowest hanging fruit. If her arms were a bit fleshy (and they aren't), what woman in her forties would not be able to identify? In the end, the Obamas are a black couple in the White House and painting them as different in any way is an effective way for their opponents to tear them down.