More than anything, the response to these latest images of Michelle Obama speaks volumes about the expectations placed on black women in the public eye and how a black women’s default emotional state is perceived as angry. The black woman is ever at the ready to aggressively defend her territory. She is making her disapproval known. She never gets to simply be.
Maybe the first lady is irritated with her husband or someone else, maybe she’s indifferent, maybe she’s thinking about the long plane ride home, maybe, just maybe, she’s recalling Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy. We will never know.
Meanwhile, the Internet is speculating about Michelle Obama’s mind-set, her motivations and the state of her marriage because if a married black man, always on the prowl even if he is the commander in chief, is seen smiling next to an attractive white woman, well, that’s curtains for the marriage. The white she-devil strikes again! The first lady can’t win. Last month, Michelle Obama was a “feminist nightmare.” Today she is angry and on the verge of losing her marriage. We can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.
And of course, there is another image that simply isn’t being shared with the same frequency or enthusiasm—one of Michelle Obama sitting with her husband and the Danish prime minister laughing and smiling openly. We are selective in what we choose to see. This image is being ignored because it doesn’t fit the narrative we want. There is also an image, shared by Goldie Taylor, of Laura Bush looking unamused while her husband speaks to a beautiful woman in the row behind them. Is she disapproving? Is she worried about her marriage? Is she “having none of it”? Or is she just sitting?
Though in most cases, the selfie allows us to turn the camera on ourselves, President Obama’s selfie at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was a mirror, reflecting the biases people may not even realize they hold.
The media’s Michelle Obama problem: What a selfie says about our biases
The overanalysis of the first lady’s expression speaks volumes about America’s expectations of black women
To me it just looked like she was upset he was being a doofus at a public show of mourning. not jealousy, not even rage (there are more shots of her speaking with the Danish PM[?] after the pics in question)