Target: Megan Kopf, Director of NBC News Communication
Goal: Ask NBC’s Today Show to stop focusing on the physical appearance of our nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama.
In a recent story, NBC chose to focus on Michelle Obama’s new haircut. The article was entitled “First lady celebrated 49th birthday with dramatic new ‘do!” As a role model for young women, Mrs. Obama needs to be taken seriously as an intelligent and educated woman, rather than reduced to a fashion icon. The United States has a history of iconizing First Ladies as trendsetters and as the embodiment of feminine values. First Ladies are supposed to be attractive, fashionable, compassionate, and charitable. It is time that we started revealing the truth about first ladies–that they have their own opinions, education, and ideas.
Girls and young women rely on the media for social cues about how to dress, act, and behave. When television shows, news programs, or reality series spend the majority of time discussing the appearance of women, female youth become inclined to believe that their appearance is more important than anything else. Particularly with strong female role models, such as the First Lady, girls are very likely to take social cues from how they are presented in the media. When media networks hone in on outfits, hairstyles, and makeup choices rather than ideas or personality, we are teaching girls that their intelligence and personality is secondary to the way they look.
Michelle Obama graduated from Princeton and received her degree in law from Harvard. After serving her community in Chicago and spending time as a lawyer, she served as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. She is also involved with two non-profit organizations: Let’s Move, a charity that spreads public awareness about exercise to prevent obesity, and Joining Forces, an organization that provides support to veterans. Surely, there are more important stories to cover than her new bangs. Please ask NBC to cover more stories about Michelle Obama the person, rather than the imagined fashion icon.
Dear Megan Kopf, Director of NBC News Communication,
Although the nation is obsessed with Michelle Obama’s style, it is time to address more important issues regarding our First Lady. Your recent story on the Today Show, entitled “First Lady Celebrated 49th Birthday with New ‘Do”, is a classic example of how materialistic media coverage has become. It is essential that we teach young girls that their ideas and personality are more important than their physical features, and your network could function as an example of this by providing fewer stories related to the First Lady’s hair, clothing, and makeup, and more stories about her philanthropy, charitable work, education, and parenting skills.
Girls and young women take many social cues from the media, and when disproportionate time is spent discussing the physical appearance of women, youth learn that their ideas and personality are secondary to the way they look. By focusing so much on Michelle Obama’s appearance, you are essentially telling young women that attractiveness is the most important goal a girl should have. Our nation has a history of iconizing First Ladies as trend setters and embodiments of traditional feminine values, such as compassion and charity. Rather than continuing this outdated and unrealistic trend, media should be portraying First Ladies (and all women) as having their own ideas, values, and personalities.
Please help our nation break away from gender stereotypes by choosing to air more in-depth coverage about our First Lady. As you know, she is a Princeton and Harvard graduate and is involved in two major charity organizations. These are the stories that would create a positive impact on the youth of our nation. Please stop objectifying Michelle Obama and reinforcing outdated gender stereotypes.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Michelle Obama via MichelleObamaWatch.com