First Lady, Michelle Obama is the current covergirl for a Spanish magazine is called Magazine Fuera de Serie, a lifestyle supplement to the newspaper Expansión. When glancing at the photo, I’m greeted first by Michelle Obama’s radiant face–my eyes then pan down to her exposed breast, peeks of the American flag and some type of makeshift headwrap.
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Karine Percheron-Daniels’ portrait of the First Lady is part of a larger series of “famous nudes” that include Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II, Abraham Lincoln and President Barack Obama. As reported on Clutch Magazine, the artist is attempting to give viewers an alternative to reality that allows us to “view famous individuals in a different way.” Well, mission accomplished. They’ve given us a different way to look at our beloved First Lady.
The article focuses on Michelle Obama’s political involvement and praises her for her intelligence, but what does this image do? Althea Legal-Miller of Clutch says:
Let’s be clear: This image has nothing to do with acknowledging Obama’s enslaved foremothers, and everything to do with reinforcing and extending the historical denial of black women’s individuality and agency. The portrait robs Obama of her identity, voice, and intellect, and visually shackles her to a politically passive subject, resigned to an assigned role as slave.
The article’s title–“Michelle Tataranieta De Esclava, Dueña De América” (Michelle Granddaughter of a Slave, Lady of America) does make an excruciating tire screeching sound in my head. But, I actually disagree robs Michelle Obama of agency. Though she is the portrayed as a slave here, I feel that Percheron-Daniels created an image that evokes emotion. The idea of our first lady as a slave hurts; but the idea of our First Lady rising from that ridiculously painful historical narrative, to ultimately become the wife of the President of the United States, gives me a spirit of pride. In my opinion, this is a visual testament to our resilience as Black people. We have come such a long way–from slaves, to leaders of a nation. I am not offended at all. I am proud.
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