I really am not the one to criticize the new hairstyle that First Lady Michelle Obama is sporting these days. After all, don't we, women, constantly change our hairstyles according to the weather, the change in seasons, our moods or our birthday?
Reportedly, the latter is the reason the first lady decided to cut bangs.
Obama recently celebrated her 49th birthday and said she couldn't get a sports car or go bungee jumping so she decided to have bangs. "This is my mid-life crisis," she said. We can relate, but she is the first lady. I just don't see a first lady having bangs, especially the long blunt style that she is wearing. That is exactly the style my four-year-old granddaughter has and Vivi is always brushing her hair out of her eyes.
If you'll notice, it seems that Obama has to look up in order to peek out from under her hair. It's just too darn youthful and not becoming of a first lady. Not that I'm looking to go back to Pat Nixon or Mamie Eisenhower, but now that I think of it, didn't Mamie have bangs, too? However, Mamie's bangs were not like Michelle's. Hers seemed to be more on top of her forehead.
We, women, do know that as you get older it is good to have wisps of hair on your forehead to soften or cover the age lines that appear at mid-life. Obama should look at some photos of Jackie Kennedy in the White House. Yes, she was much younger than Obama when JFK was president, but Jackie had a style that exuded youth and sophistication. The severe bangs are just too youthful for Obama's role as first lady.
Of course, we understand that she cut her hair as a gesture in facing her mid-life crisis, but she is a role model and should keep that in the forefront. In that respect I am glad to see that she decided to wear a dress with sleeves for her official portrait rather than her signature sleeveless dress style that we have been accustomed to seeing her wear. No doubt it's a tricky balance to maintain a sense of youthfulness, sophistication and dignity. Observing the Obamas as they sat on the viewing stand during the Inaugural Parade gave me the impression that Michele's new hairstyle was too youthful as she sat next to her two daughters.
I certainly can relate, however, as I reflect upon the many hairstyles I had through the years, especially when I was in my 40s. It seemed as if the more independent and free I felt, the longer and wilder my hair became. I remember years ago when I was hired to start a new newspaper in Weston, the owner of the paper was very pleased with my credentials, but I heard that he wished I would do something with my long blond hair. My hairstyle was not conservative enough for the image he wanted his newspaper to project. So I cut my hair and my hairdresser dyed my hair brown to match the roots that were really the color that my hair had become as I aged. My friend said I looked like a waitress for Howard Johnson's. Needless to say, as the newspaper established itself in the community, I began to grow my hair longer and lighter.
Still to this day, I refuse to succumb to my natural color, which is becoming more gray every day, nor do I wish to wear really short hair as other senior citizens do. I keep it longer beneath my chin with wisps of hair on the forehead. I rather keep the image of Georgia O'Keefe or Frida Kahlo in my mind's eye to remind me of the importance of personal style and stature in life.
Yes, again, it is a question of balance, that we, as women, Michelle included, must keep in mind-- the balance of style with the place that we carve out for ourselves in society.
Rita Papazian is a freelance writer based in Fairfield County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.