The former first lady, who straightened her hair throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, feared negative fallout if she adopted a more natural hairstyle.
If Michelle Obama wore straight hair during her husband’s eight years as president, it was because she feared public backlash. This she explained on Tuesday in Washington to Ellen Degeneres during a press conference to promote her new book, This light in us.
The former US first lady was styled in long braids as she sat opposite the former talk show host to answer his questions. A hairstyle she forbade herself during her years in the White House:
“(Americans) were just getting used to” having a black family in the White House, she said, as reported by washington post.
Although it would have been easier and more natural to wear them in braids, she recalled thinking, “No, (the Americans) are not ready.”
Because cases of discrimination against African-Americans’ natural hair come up regularly. The American media especially remembers the story of a 6-year-old boy who was unable to enter his school because of his dreadlocks in 2018, or the story of a journalist who had generally stated that his hair was “unprofessional ” in 2019 So last March, the US Congress passed the Crown Act, which prohibits discrimination related to hairstyle or hair texture.
“We have to deal with this,” Michelle Obama said, as reported by Guardian. “Ask us, ‘do you go to work with your hair natural?’. It’s inevitable for African-Americans.”
Believing that White House braids risked complicating the task of the Obama administration, which would have had to respond to comments that were anything but political, the former first lady preferred to stick to her brush: “I will keep my hair straight and we’re going to push through welfare reform,’” she recalled thinking.
“They freaked out the day Barack wore a beige suit,” she said, referring to a controversy in 2014. “That was the great indignity, the scandal for the Obama administration.” The costume’s stark outfit, deemed too casual, had taken up most of the comments, clouding the president’s speech, which called out Islamic State.