Note to Fashion World: Michelle Obama Is Black

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Womens’ Wear Daily commissioned top designers to ‘dress’ Michelle Obama in her role as First Lady. I’m with Slate’s Julia Turner: Why’d so many draw her as a shiksa?

I get that these drawings are stylizations but, to design for someone individually sorta requires you to deal with their skin tone, right? Would they drape a ‘winter’ in ‘summer’ colors? A few of the drawings make her downright Nubian, but a suspicious few too many have re-imagined her no darker than a color best described as “geisha”.

Why? When they design for white folks, do the skin tones in the drawings vary far from alabaster? One hates to get all psychological on a Thursday, but are these artists ‘helping’ her by making her whiter (and thus ‘capable’ of beauty) or are they so squeamish in imagining a sister in couture that they have to whitewash her to make her ‘worthy’ of high fashion?

Check out the drawings yourself. Maybe I’m overreacting.

Nah. We’re looking at some Freudian slips here.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest