The XX Factor

Michelle Obama’s Newest Role: Ball Girl

There’s been much written and debated about how “real” Michelle Obama seems and how the first family appears to be like any regular American family. That many Americans of different backgrounds and races see the Obamas as relatable and symbolic of the larger American family is a good thing. That people have gotten so used to seeing them this way over the past two years that it’s no longer even a big deal is even better.

Still, it would be naive to believe that the rarefied and privileged lives of presidents and their families are anything like the lives led by us ordinary folks. Mrs. Obama makes me forget this sometimes though because she often behaves, well, like a regular person and not like “THE FIRST LADY.” And I mean this in a positive way. We’ve all seen her looking fabulously rega l at fancy White House state dinners, being very first ladyish at State of the Union speeches or at the memorial event for those killed by the Tucson shooter.  It’s when she does things I’m not used to seeing a presidential spouse do that I find myself doing a double take and thinking: “Wow, the first lady did that?”

I was tickled for instance by this new commercial , promoting her “Let’s Move” campaign’s collaboration with the U.S. Tennis Association.  It features two cute tweens playing tennis and superstar Andre Agassi and Mrs. Obama (in a sweat-suit, no less) serving as ball boy and ball girl. I love the look on Mrs. Obama’s face when one of the young players shushes her. She looks like she’s having fun playing outside the once circumscribed lines of a traditional first lady. It’s refreshing to watch her redefine this role, and I think it’s especially good that young girls, like the ones in the video, are watching her too.