It is a shocking image. It’s one that literally made my draw drop and my mouth hang open like a surprised child. It’s the image of First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, photoshopped onto a famous topless painting on the cover of a Spanish magazine. Michelle’s face is placed on to “Portrait d’une negresse,” a work by Marie-Guillemine Benoist, which originally depicted a slave with her breast exposed.
Although the original work was seen as a symbol of support for feminism and black rights, it’s hard to argue that when Fuera de Serie manipulated the the picture onto it’s August 2012 cover, it was done for anything more than shock value and controversy. After all, it’s hardly unexpected that people would be angry at their First Lady pictured as a sexualized slave for the world to see. It’s hard to deny the message it sends about the ways we treat powerful and influential women.
In fact, the idea that the magazine perverted a painting that did have such historical significance might make the entire issue worse. This picture had meaning in France, and looked at both racial history and the prevailing the sentiment that women were much like slaves in the 1800s. The painting was a protest of human bondage.
So why exactly does Michelle Obama’s face need to be on it? Oh right, because she’s a powerful black woman and portraying her topless will create controversy and likely increase sales. It is demeaning to both the history of the painting and the woman their objectifying.
Michelle Obama is a mother and role model to children all over this country. She is a strong and successful female. This magazine cover is beyond reprehensible. There is absolutely no justification for it at all.
It takes a powerful woman and pulls a trick that we’ve seen time and time again. It shows her in a sexualized and demoralized state. Michelle Obama deserves better. So does every other female, whether they’re a consumer or the subject of such awful controversy. The magazine should ashamed, and women from both sides of the political spectrum should be denouncing this blatant troll-baiting.
I hate that my daughter, and everyone else’s daughter, as well as sons see the degradation strong women are consistently subjected to in our media. I want her to see Michelle getting active with kids, working in her garden, and helping veterans – all the reasons that I’m so proud of the First Lady of this country.
(Photo: Fuera de Serie)