True stories with a twist!


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.”        

Jackie Kennedy: Her classic style included pillbox hats and A-line dresses.  

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!

Comments on: "FIRST LADIES" (21)

  1. Cathy Lampron said:

    I really admire Michelle Obama. I think she looks great and don’t know if bare arms are criteria for being a wonderful first lady. My others are Jacqueline Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. Both very strong and memorable.

  2. When I think of “First Ladies”, my mind goes directly to Eleanor Roosevelt. Though she was born into a wealthy socioeconomic situation, she struggled deeply with insecurity and social awkwardness in her early adult years. Yet the manner in which she allowed the struggles of the working class to ignite, within her, a passion to rise above her own personal inadequacies and utilize her position to aid others, draws me to her story and empowers me to emulate her strength.

    As far as I’m concerned, Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman of great beauty. And to my view, that same type of compassion and fervor is present with our current first lady, Michelle Obama…arms or no arms showing!

  3. I’ve also noticed the sleeveless trend among newscasters. In the dead of winter last year, they were wearing dresses without sleeves. I know the lights on the set can be hot, but they aren’t that hot.

  4. My favorite first ladies are Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Obama, and Lady Bird Johnson. Does anyone else remember how truly filthy our highways and byways were before Lady Bird started her beautification program. It was not unusual to see multiple cars tossing everything from lunch wrappings, cans of half drunk soda, to cigarette butts out the window as they drove merrily along. We looked like a third world country. Now every time I see banks and medium strips with endless rows of wild flowers and no trash, I remember Lady Bird. Mrs. Roosevelt had balls of steel. Her crusades to help women, blacks, and the poor were legendary and all of it was done while swimming upstream against the stupidity of a racist culture and the greed of the industry powers that be. And you don’t have enough comment space for me to write how much I admire Mrs. Obama–she is outstanding!

    So what happens if Hilary becomes president in 2016? Does Bill become “first man” and have to come up with a project? Will they put his inauguration suit in a museum? It could happen!

  5. She really is stunning. I think she brought a fresh, confident, and healthy look to The White House!

  6. I adore Michelle Obama. Of course, with my background in pediatrics, I’m biased since I’m thrilled she chose pediatric obesity as her platform. But the woman clearly practices what she preaches about exercise and nutrition, and I like that she’s realistic about it. She believes in everything in moderation. And yes, she has some pretty impressive ‘guns.’ 🙂

  7. One of my favourite First Ladies has to be Eleanor Roosevelt. What an inspiring, wise woman 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed your post, I’d love to see what others think of other First Ladies 🙂 On Nov 20, 2012 2:27 AM, “morristownmemos” wrote:

    > ** > morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer posted: “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 al”

  8. I enjoyed reading your observations, but what strikes me most is that you visited the Neue Gallery, which I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never even heard of. I admire your affinity for travel, museums and classes. You really seem to embrace life. You are an inspiration!

  9. I never noticed that! I got my one and only detention for wearing a sleeveless shirt in high school. Lookit that, Ms. Vice-Principle! I was just being classy, not sassy! Hmmph.

  10. It brings to mind the woman who was interviewed by a reporter just recently – she dislikes Michelle Obama because she bares her arms and dared to be photographed doing push ups. Some folks sure do hang onto the past and have antiquated ideas about propriety. Michelle Obama is a wonderful role model – intelligent, articulate, active and an activist. And, she married a pretty nice guy.

  11. I had been wondering about the sudden surge in sleeveless attire. Now I see it comes from Mrs. Obama setting a new style, along with other daring First Ladies. But their greater legacies will live on.

  12. Judy Berman said:

    I love your tribute to these women. First Lady Michelle Obama has, indeed, set many firsts. I do applaud her efforts to get young folks – and all of us – eating healthy.
    What would you think of when you think of Hillary Clinton, a former first lady?
    Jackie Kennedy, perhaps, left the biggest impression on me for many reasons.

  13. Hilary Clinton. Not on the list. Maybe not your type, LOL. 🙂

    Subhan Zein

    • Subhan, Hillary Clinton is not on my list because she’s not my type; I greatly admire her and think she is incredibly smart, knowledgeable and trustworthy. It is my mistake for not including her in this blog.

  14. Aaah the dreaded “Granny wings”… that frighten women… Mrs Obama who appears on our TV every now and then, always seems to be in the sleeveless dresses, but then she is as yet not a Granny, and always does look smart.. and I’m sure when she develops her “wings” she will dress accordingly… but women should never underestimate the “wings” that develop with age… my memories of a hug from my Grans, was the loving envelopment of warmth and softness that those “wings” gave…. something so special to young children, and I think that is why God gave them to women… My Grand Fathers always came over as big strong men… and that they were… but my Grans were special for their “Granny wings”…

  15. It’s amazing – other people love it that Ms. Obama flaunts her bare arms. The world is a-changing and I am not so sure I like it.

  16. Great observation, great post. Yeah, think of Mrs Obama, think of firm upper arms. She’s made a mark as well–one the world will remember as well.

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