Michelle Obama said Tuesday that she changed her natural hair style while she was first lady so as not to intimidate the American people.
Obama straightened her hair instead of putting it in braids because Americans were “just getting adjusted” to having a first black president, she said at an event for her book tour in Washington, DC, the Washington Post first reported.
“Nope, they’re not ready for it,” she said she concluded at the time. Obama implied that styling her hair in a more traditional fashion would have distracted from the former president’s policy priorities.
“Let me keep my hair straight,” Obama said she told herself. “Let’s get health-care passed.” She said African-American women frequently deal with judgment over their hair decisions. They’re urged to chemically straighten their hair in professional settings to blend in rather than wear it naturally, she suggested.
“We deal with it — the whole thing about, ‘Do you show up with your natural hair?'” Obama said.
The mother of two claimed there’s a double standard with how black people are expected to dress and curate their appearance. In 2014, Republicans and media outlets criticized her husband for wearing a beige suit. Republicanness Representative Peter T. King said the outfit lacked “s ” and lifestyle magazines deemed it a fashion mistake. Michelle said she’s glad she avoided such brutal scrutiny by sticking to the status quo on hair.
“Remember when she wore braids? Those are terrorist braids! Those are revolutionary braids!” Obama joked that her critics might have said.
In terms of personal maintenance and scheduling during her husband’s administration, Obama had about 25 staffers, an unprecedented number for a first lady. Her successor, Melania Trump, was estimated to have about ten, which was then smaller than any first lady, Demosta’s or Republican, in decades.
The former first lady’s name has been floated by Democratic strategists and pundits as a potential presidential nominee due to her broad name recognition and general popularity, though she has said she’s not interested in the job.