The Virgin in the Garden

 By Tatiana von Tauber

[Michelle Obama has] become the spokeswoman for all sorts of issues and topics – from fitness, parenting, the environment and women’s rights, to redefining images of black women in American culture and promoting self-esteem for young girls.
Yet in the midst of all those themes, it isn’t yet clear whether her self-described core messages – about military families, volunteerism, and helping working women balance work and family life – are truly breaking through. Some wonder if she’s spreading herself too thin to emerge in the public mind as a leading voice on those topics. (source)

Mindy Sabella, director of marketing at Siegel+Gale specializing in stragegic branding called the First Lady “fragmented”.  She couldn’t figure out why Michelle was planting herbs!  Factor in all of Michelle Obama’s representations as a successful African-American mother and feminist, I’d trust her intiution with planting gardens. First Lady Obama is simply weeding out what won’t work, what doesn’t interest her quite enough to focus on it with the limited time she has.  That’s a tough job in and of itself.  She’s a virgin in this new role but wise enough to be broad minded as I think the next generation of feminists are. The bigger picture tends to lead us into wiser choices.

I can’t thank the feminist movement enough. Though I disagree with second wavers’ views on many levels, feminism as a whole worked by creating possibility where none existed before.   The weight on Michelle’s shoulders, as her husband’s, is enormous and what I find responsible is the fact that neither President or First Lady Obama are jumping into anything without testing things out, thinking about them, and informing before trying new approaches.  A new approach is in fact what they were voted in hopes for.  Not everything will work or make sense and only pioneers set forth new ideas in the muddy waters of government and social understanding.  Never in  my lifetime have I been so excited about the future of politics and America and that excitment isn’t quite for its success but to witness its evolution. I believe we’re tipping the disaster or the uprising of a new America.  What an interesting time for me to be here.

Human beings have always survived and corruption in America is nothing new.  What is new for my generation, however, is that at this moment, we are sitting on the edge of a huge change in American consciousness.  I’m very curious to see how women will take over the world while men become their equals and how the meaning of what it means to be American begins to redefine  itself.

If Michelle Obama seems unconventional, get used to it. Unconventional is what young and new feminists dare to be.   What my girls need are role models not only in feminist actualization but in the role of good will, service, bravery, open-mindedness, compassion for others and self-respect and love for being who one is.  That, as our First Lady, is a rarity in the garden of hope:

“She is not trying to be a symbol of the first lady. She is trying to connect with the vast number of Americans who would like to have a person similar to them and their ideal. It’s more of an indirect approach,” said Howard Rubenstein of Rubenstein Communications, Inc. “She is more like an ambassador of friendliness and good will, and it is working very well. I would want to hire her as a PR person because she hasn’t lost touch. She doesn’t believe that as first lady, she has to be meeting with kings and queens.”  (source)


3 Responses to The Virgin in the Garden

  1. Marty says:

    I’m not an obama fan, but… I haven’t looked at her from the perspective of being a role model for my daughter. I’ll have to chew on this a bit. good job!

  2. Tatiana says:

    Hi Marty,

    I hadn’t really considered her one either but mine likes President Obama and politics – special, I think for any 11 y/o – and it wasn’t until recently I’ve come to appreciate Michelle Obama from a different feminist perspective.

    There is, of course, the bias where her and I have children in similar ages; her and I are in the same generation among a few other ways in which I relate to Michelle Obama – so it just seems a natural extension to be interested in how she’ll represent family and that family concept really struggles these days. It just needs a modern representation and each time I look I get more impressed with Michelle. I didn’t like her style in the beginning but she grew on me I guess. :-) Must be that gardener’s touch or something.



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