Obama Body Image Commentary


Christina Cauterucci comments on President Obama’s recent televised conversation with Misty Copeland, in which he says having daughters has increased his awareness of normative body-image pressures imposed by society onto young women. Copeland, a petite ballet dancer nevertheless deemed too large for the form, agreed that coded “appearance-based language” often excludes people of color from typically-white institutions. However, Obama slipped when, in the context of easing his daughters’ body image woes, he mentioned their “gorgeous mom who has some curves” which “their father appreciates.” His message about size is agreeable, but the implication that his appreciation of that beauty is necessary to validate it is quite problematic. If, instead, Obama (and anyone in similar positions) had left his thoughts out of it– thereby allowing individuals to make their own judgment calls on what health entails for them– those individuals would “deemphasize weight” in perceptions of worth and beauty, “eliminating a source of stigma and anxiety for people of any weight” (Burgard p. 51).