Where were you when you first saw Michelle Obama's Atelier Versace gown at her final White House State Dinner?
I was having a kiki over margs with my best gurls when I was blindsided and left for dead by a snapshot of Rachel Zoe's Instagram post magically materializing in my text inbox. A roundtable of audible gay gasps later and the reality set in: this is one of the last times Michelle Obama will gag us collectively as a nation.
It's a known fact that MObama can slay a State Dinner. Her divisive but divine McQueen gown from 2011's dinner with China still pleasantly haunts my memory. A Communist red, asymmetrically off-the-shoulder number, some (notably go-to first lady couturier Oscar de la Renta) were taken aback by Mrs. Obama wearing a non-American designer to a State Dinner, especially since she's been the most visible and ardent champion of American fashion over the last decade. But Michelle Obama always defies expectations.
Yes, she's fierce, yes she's slaying for the gods, yes her hair is laid like world peace, but behind her enviable, archive-worthy LQQKS is a woman who has defined herself as not only one of the most beloved but one of the most transformative first ladies of the past 50 years, if not ever.
The power of Michelle Obama is only now being appreciated, following her nationally televised mic drop of a speech at the DNC and her epic read of the Republican presidential nominee in New Hampshire. She's by far Hillary Clinton's most effective surrogate (sorryboutit, Prez) because she's what Hillary Clinton is not: popular. Amid calls of her to run in 2020, Michelle Obama's approval rating is higher not only than her husband, but higher than practically everyone connected to the 2016 election.
To me, the Obamas' greatest legacy is that they made it okay to be black. That is, they made it possible to have the current conversation about race we're having as a country and they made it okay for black people to explore what blackness means. After all, the President and the First Lady redefined what it means to be black in America just by moving into the White House. But from the moment Michelle Obama stepped into that house built by slaves, she made it her mission to empower women and girls all over the country, especially black women, who have traditionally been left at the wayside by our society.
And her influence has beautifully come to fruition in 2016, an unprecedented year in #BlackGirlMagic: black women snatched medals all over the place at the Rio Olympics; Beyonce and sister Solange released two revelatory albums affirming blackness and womanhood; Ava DuVernay continued her methodical takeover of Hollywood with Queen Sugar on OWN and the devestatingly brilliant The 13th on Netflix; Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Kerry Washington, Issa Rae of HBO's Insecure, and other black women have made significant, lauded strides on television and in film, both in front of and behind the camera.
I envy the generation of kids coming up today, who grew up with a black president and first lady, something I had never conceived in my own youth. They're growing up with the possibilities of their world forever broadened. Michelle Obama's confidence, her grace, her intelligence, eloquence, and elegance have been beacons of light througout her husband's administration, and her Versace gown--glistening and iridescent--reflects the light of those eight years.
So, in conclusion, Michelle Obama is fierce, she's slaying for the gods, and her hair is laid like world peace. And we're a better nation because of it.