New York magazine invited sixteen writers to, in a series of 350-ish-word pieces, ponder “the many meanings of a new American icon,” Michelle Obama.

Terry McMillan (author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back) is “especially” “excited” by Michelle Obama’s “hips,” hoping

those beautiful curves…are sending a message to women of all ethnicities — but black women like me in particular (and of course young girls) — that having some meat on your bones is and always has been a blessing you don’t have to be ashamed of…

…until, maybe, you read on the next page Caitlin Flanagan (author of To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife) describe being struck by the “pretty figure” Mrs. Obama “cuts” “in her big-and-tall-gal wear.” (This First Lady, Flanagan concludes, “like Hillary…lacks taste” and “her consumer preferences seem to have been rendered into being by the Mall At Short Hills.” But Mrs. Obama’s tastelessness is, at least, appropriate for the times, Flanagan adds, as “ours is not the moment for taste.”)

Bottom line: skip the written package; check out the accompanying art (“artists interpret Michelle Obama.”)


Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.