Ah, the office of the First Lady. She is to be poised and pretty, strong and reliable. She is a role model for the nation, and she is more than a figurehead. Each First Lady expected to choose a cause – usually social in nature – and raise awareness, do the footwork, and, apparently, bear the brunt of an insanely backwards backlash.
America, Michelle Obama wants you to be healthy. She wants you to eat more veggies and exercise more. I know. It’s horrible.
One Tweet I saw was so absurd I could hardly stand it: “Nancy Regan said say no to drugs. Laura Bush said say no to illiteracy. Michelle Obama says say no to hamburgers?!!”
No, she didn’t, really. She just told you to pry your trolling self away from the screen long enough to get healthy. And unfortunately, furious ignorance and right-wing lunacy don’t burn calories.
Arguments against Mrs. Obama’s attempts to get the nation moving are wide in variation. Some have even gone as far as to blame this campaign for an increase in pedestrian deaths. But most are just perturbed because they believe that she’s overstepping government bounds by advising on matters of health. One can only assume that they did not read The Jungle, do not intend to accept Medicare or Medicaid, and do not believe in the presence of the FDA, the CDC, or the Department of Health & Human Services. Additionally, I imagine that those who feel that the government ought not be involved in matters of health would also not mind if all drugs were decriminalized and if liquor was sold to anyone who could see over the counter and count the correct amount of change. Clearly, we live in a nanny state when the government is involved in our health.
But what is more ridiculous than polarizing the critical nature of health and the human body is the attack on Michelle Obama herself. It’s personal. It’s hurtful. It’s the lowest blow a media outlet or talking head can lob at a female. The emphasis is not on the fact that yes, many Americans do eat too much, and they do not move their bodies enough; the emphasis is on Mrs. Obama’s weight. It’s a cheap shot at best. And in light of Michelle Obama’s endless poise and class, it seems supremely tactless to target her personally. But the right is rarely praised for their tact.
However, all is not lost. Several key republicans have stepped up in defense of the Let’s Move campaign and of Michelle Obama herself. This is heartening news, and perhaps goes to show that there is still some modicum of sanity surrounding the issue.
If there is to be a debate about the Let’s Move campaign, or about the government’s role in the health of the nation’s children, that’s fine. If there are parties who want to make the fight against obesity (real obesity, too – the very unhealthy kind that comes from not eating a healthy, balanced diet and not exercising) a political issue, that’s fine, too. But I am not alone when I plead that we keep the dialogue respectful.
If you want to chew the fat, so to speak, you can have your piece. But stooping to the level of fat-shaming a woman who is a picture of health is pathetic, it cripples the argument, and it does nothing to heighten the debate.