This September, in an article entitled “American Dream,” Tyra Banks will pay homage to Michelle Obama in a seven-page editorial spread for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. It is almost as though Tyra got word of the “Janice Sips the Haterade” post, decided to inject a bit of her own fierceness into Michelle Obama’s legacy, and phoned Harper’s Bazaar with a proposition.
Upon first glance, the editorial spread, which leaked to the public yesterday, made me furrow my brow in perplexity as I couldn’t help but question its ultimate objective. And, while I do not doubt the authenticity of Banks’ admiration for both Senator and Mrs. Obama, I found the overall tone of the Bazaar spread rather satiric in nature.
As a collective, the seven photos attempt to capture the various hats Michelle Obama wears as potential first lady, wife, mother, humanitarian, and history in the making. I say “attempt” because, rather than portraying Obama as the thoughtful, introspective, hard-working woman she is, Bazaar‘s Obama appears over animated and without substance, very detached from the world in which she really lives. The snapshots may as well have been taken from a Miss America pageant – you know, the part immediately after the winner is announced… (insert smile and wave).
In fact, Bazaar’s one-dimensional portrayal of such a prolific woman, evidenced by the same million-dollar smile in each photo, leaves me quite unsure about how to interpret Bazaar‘s depiction of not only Obama’s everyday life, but her complexity as an outstanding individual with thoughts and emotions that are equally complex, if not more so. What was Bazaar’s initial vision for the spread and how did that vision differ from that of Tyra Banks, if at all? I’m just saying; something was lost in translation.
It is no secret that the world of politics is ruthless. Period. So, perhaps the happy-go-lucky persona of Bazaar‘s Obama is an interpretation of Michelle Obama’s spirit personified, the inner warmth that elevates her above the unavoidable stress, scrutiny, and criticism she endures each day under the media’s watchful eye.
If it was Bazaar’s intent to capture such an intangibly abstract side of Michelle Obama through fashion photography, Tyra Banks was the person to realize that vision. Yet, I doubt that every day for Michelle is as fierce, fabulous, and flawless as Tyra portrayed it. Rather, there are days more trying than others. There are days when her children work her nerves, and there are days, though probably few and far between, where she is able to let her hair down, and enjoy a few hours of solitude…
Before viewing the leaked photos, I was certain that Tyra would present to me a side of Michelle that I didn’t know existed. Why else would Bazaar assign Banks, master conveyor of emotion through body language/creator of the open-eyed squint, such an enormous task?
I know now that I asked for too much.