The Powerful Message Behind Michelle Obama’s Braids 》

We all know that Michelle Obama is an amazing speaker. From her speeches to her podcast to her books, you can always count on her to deliver powerful words of wisdom.

Part of what makes those words so powerful is that Michelle Obama doesn’t shy away from the truth, even when it’s painful. This was clear when she was doing a press tour for her latest book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. During that tour, she mentioned how she was tempted to wear braids as First Lady but ultimately decided against it, fearing a backlash from the American public.

Why did she fear a backlash, though, and how have Michelle Obama’s ideas about wearing braids changed over time? Keep reading to find out!

Sharing her story

We grow up hearing that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, the simple reality is that society judges people by their appearance on a constant basis. This is true even for wealthy and influential people!

And this is something that Michelle Obama understands all too well. As reported by Pop Sugar, Obama was at a speaking engagement to promote her new book and said that she thought about wearing braids as First Lady but realized it would provoke a negative reaction. “I did not wear braids,” she said. “Yeah, we had to ease up on the people.”

Why, though, would braids promote such a strong, negative reaction? It all has to do with persistent racism in America.

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Dealing with racist perceptions

During that speaking engagement, Michelle Obama didn’t really elaborate on her previous hair comments. However, in a later interview with Revolt, Obama talked more at length about her hair might have been perceived by certain people.

“To be honest, we were the first [Black president and first lady in the White House]. They gotta get used to us,” Michelle Obama said. She then elaborated on how other things she and Barack Obama did got blown out of proportion. “Now I could show up in braids and now that’s all we talk about. When we did a fist bump with each other, they turned that into a terrorist act.”

Eventually deciding the braids were more trouble than they were worth, Michelle Obama decided on a more conservative hair approach. “It’s just, who needs the hassle? Let me just straighten my hair. I wore weaves, extensions, protective styles, because you get your hair done every day and sometimes twice a day,” she said. “I would not have any hair on my head if I straightened it as much as I had to straighten it.”