The XX Factor

How Dare Michelle Obama Wear a Ballgown to a State Dinner

It’s like she thinks she’s the first lady.

Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The loonier edge of the right-wing media has been up in arms all week at the temerity of the Obamas to think they get to host state dinners for foreign leaders just because the country elected Barack Obama to be our president. The outrage (hopefully) reached maximum capacity when Michelle Malkin and her outrage crew at Twitchy discovered that the first lady wore … wait for it … a ballgown to Tuesday’s state dinner for French President Francois Hollande. Not just any ballgown, but an expensive one, as tends to be the case when it comes to ballgowns worn to state dinners. Blood pressures at Twitchy rose to worrying heights when it was discovered that some journalists thought Michelle Obama looked lovely in her ballgown. In retaliation for the travesty of the first lady donning formal wear to a formal dining event, Malkin started retweeting her followers taking selfies of themselves in cheap clothes meant for casual events. 

Or, in her own case, clothes meant to be worn strictly around the house. Presumably because true patriots don’t distinguish between indoor and outdoor clothing. 

Color me skeptical, but I have trouble believing that Malkin and her followers would be satisfied if Michelle Obama followed their advice and, at future state dinners, showed up in a halter top, cutoffs, and a pair of house slippers, with a fanny pack instead of a clutch purse for stashing her lipstick. Not to be overly cynical about Malkin and her motivations here, but I suspect that instead of applauding the first lady for her humility and populist fashion sense if she showed up in leggings from Target, she instead would denounce Obama for lacking class and/or for thumbing her nose at the traditions of this great nation.

But perhaps I am less than generous. Perhaps the good people at Twitchy and those that tweet pictures of clothing at them really are sartorial rebels who are out to destroy the bourgeois notion of decorum inherent in wearing different clothes for different occasions. What looks to outsiders like a nasty, baseless attack on the first lady may just be the sparking of a radical revolt on the very idea of propriety. This may be just the beginning, and soon Malkin’s feed will be solely devoted to demanding that Americans refuse to wear anything but sweats and Crocs to all occasions, including their own weddings. Or maybe all that talk of socialism is finally sinking in, and Malkin will soon be churning out bumper stickers that say, “No one gets a Carolina Herrera ballgown until everyone has Carolina Herrera ballgowns!” If so, then I am fully prepared to eat crow on this one. Until then, however, I’m assuming that this is what it looks like: an ugly attack on Michelle Obama for thinking she gets to have nice things.