Walk down the magazine aisle of any bookstore or newsstand and you will see Michelle Obama on several magazine covers.
Beautiful and statuesque with an engaging smile, she easily draws eyes to any magazine she graces, and she has been on many covers of late. Sometimes alone, other times with the president, with their daughters, Malia and Sasha, and most recently on the cover of Essence with her mother, Marian Robinson.
Essence, People and Us Weekly have featured Michelle at least twice, and she has also been on the cover of Ebony, New York, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Women’s Weekly, More, Plum and she is the first person besides Oprah, to be on the cover of The Oprah Magazine.
However, any photos of Michelle, on covers or otherwise as well as the entire Obama family, are highly controlled by the White House. According to the Los Angeles Times much of the family coverage is coordinated by Michelle Obama’s office and guided by her aide, Camille Johnston, former head of the Dodgers’ communication department.
"The Obama team has been masterful in the management of the image and the allocation of stories," said Angela Burt-Murray, editor of Essence, a magazine geared toward black women, that was given access to Michelle Obama and her mother for a spread on their family life. "There's definitely a science to the way they're approaching this.” (LA Times)
By strategically releasing images of the family the monetary value of any unauthorized photos is diminished. In return for access, celebrity news outlets must refuse to publish unauthorized pictures, or risk being cut off by the White House. (LA Times)
The Obamas are very much aware of the public’s desire to see photos of their family, but they also want to protect the girls, Malia and Sasha, from paparazzi and unwanted attention. To prevent that, the unwritten rule is that White House photographers cannot capture images of the girls without also putting one of their parents in the picture, and that the girls are fair game only when they are participating in public events.
They are also very aware of the family’s value as a political asset and as a role model for other families. With that in mind they try to strike a balance between privacy and self-promotion. (LA Times)
Through it all, Michelle Obama is the guiding force behind the Obama image. She wisely projects her husband’s image, but protects her girls, and she is confident enough to pose for the cover of top magazines. Her confidence as a wife, parent and First Lady are a role model for women of all ages and races.
"The Obama Watch"
by Cheri Cabot Political Correspondent
Cheri is a freelance writer, living in Southern California. She has two grown children, one in Iowa and one a recent graduate of Columbia University, and is the proud grandmother of two. Cheri is also a purveyor of fine coffee, warm chatter and dry wit.
You can find all of Cheri’s columns on Personal About Politics at www.personalpolitcs.gather.com, The Obama Watch at theobamawatch.gather.com or her home page at www.ccabot.gather.com.