They all leave us with something. A belief, pet project or personal style. First Ladies: what images come to mind when you hear their names? Here are some of mine. Lady Bird Johnson: She had a passion for beautifying the country by planting wildflowers along the breadth of our highways. Barbara Bush: Mrs.Bush promoted literacy as she appeared wearing her famous double strand of large “pretend pearls.”
Laura Bush: Her focus was on reading to children.
Thinking of first ladies, I recently visited the Neue Gallery in New York. A docent leading a tour of the German artist, Ferdinand Hodler’s work said to our group, “Notice the different background colors in these two portraits. One is blue and one is red. What do you think of when you think of the color red?” “Nancy Reagan.” The docent wanted to hear the answer, “Passion.” My association with Mrs. Reagan and the color red overtook reason.
Our present first lady, Michelle Obama, a Harvard educated lawyer, is involved in teaching the country about nutrition. She planted a vegetable garden on the White House grounds to encourage children to eat fresh vegetables. But try as I may, what I think of when I think of Michelle Obama is arms. Bare ones. No other first lady has appeared in public wearing sleeveless dresses, addressed huge audiences bare armed, or appeared on television programs minus sleeves. The number of female news anchors copying this look is almost laughable. Suddenly they’re sleeveless too. There was an expression, “Monkey see, monkey do,” that we chanted as children to people copying something from someone. One woman sportscaster discussing the macho aspect of a N.Y. Giants’ football strategy, wearing a sleeveless dress, seemed almost as appropriate as a female firefighter responding to a four alarm fire wearing 5 inch heels. A weather woman forecasting a frigid night while wearing a sleeveless blouse made as much sense as an eskimo woman “mushing” a dog team, clad in only in a mini skirt, halter top and sandals. World news reported by a sleeve deprived woman sitting before exploding rockets on a screen behind her reminds me of someone rushing out to safety wearing a flimsy nightgown. On the other hand, Mrs. Obama proves the great benefit for working out, exercising and firming those upper arms. And if that fails to give you the shapely arms you crave, wear sleeves!