Fug or Fab the Cover: Michelle Obama on Vogue


fug-or-fab

Things I like about this cover: It’s simple, it’s uncluttered, that shade of green on the wallpaper is awesome, Michelle Obama looks really fit and healthy, her lipstick is a good shade, and nowhere is there an arbitrary number of things being bleated at me. Somewhere at Vogue — and every magazine — I imagine there to be a database where you can look up whether 342 or 197 has been used before, and if so, at least make sure it applied to something else rather than repeat that there are exactly 218 ways to work your left ab, or whatever.

Things I am not sure about on the cover: Whether her dress looks like it’s being blown open by accident, the haircut (I think it is too severe on her), the stiffness of the pose; the fact that the only thing they could think of to do with Michelle Obama was plonk her on a table and arrange her arms. This looks like a sitting for an Official Portrait, not a compelling Vogue cover.

Things I understand about this cover: Vogue probably isn’t allowed to get too Vogue all over Michelle Obama, because it would probably in some way scandalize everyone and be perceived as disrespecting the role of the First Lady.

Things I nonetheless wish about this cover: that Vogue pushed harder to find a creative approach. I bet Michelle Obama wishes she got to have crazy fun more often, because when you’re First Lady it’s nigh on impossible to throw caution to the wind and do things that are insane, like say, allowing Vogue to feature you in a spread where you’re using gym equipment in huge wigs and ball gowns with insane makeup. But it might be nice to think people can do more with and for you than just Executive Head Shots.

What do you think? No treason charges here, I promise.

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[Photo: Vogue]

 

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Comments (85):

  1. Lindy
    +14

    I can’t be objective about it because I dislike her so intensely.

    • Heather
      0

      It would be good for people to keep ALL political feelings out of this. Thanks in advance.

      • Esme
        +19

        Thank you.

        • Montréalaise
          +2

          The thing is – the cover blurb itself is very political. “The First Lady and the President are inspiring America” – I’m sure many Americans would disagree vehemently.

          • maryse
            0

            but many would also agree. and some don’t give a shit.

            sorry i know. i just couldn’t help myself.

            • Vandalfan
              0

              The cover of the magazine is not GFY. This is the reason I can enjoy GFY. Disrespect of elected official is wrong, even if you didn’t vote for them.

        • ESK
          0

          I am 99% sure that photo was actually taken AT the White House (I live in DC and was lucky enough to take the WH holiday tour, so the green fabric wall looks familiar.) You can only get so snazzy when you’re shooting in a historic place like that, so I can’t knock them for keeping it traditional.

      • Liz985
        +3

        Heather, ordinarily I would agree with you. In the past I’ve seen comments where a poster makes some random, out-of-the blue remark about an actor or actresses politics and others have, rightly, shut it down. This is a fashion site — for fun. But this cover blurs the lines, no? Yes, it’s Vogue, but the cover is of someone deeply connected to politics. It was bound to evoke such a reaction.

    • julyol1972
      +31

      Then find another site to talk about your dislike. This site is about fashion – if you can’t keep to that topic, then don’t comment and spoil it for the rest of us!

    • Esme
      +12

      Just a tad disrespectful considering she is the first lady.

    • Joanne
      +4

      Racists gonna hate…

      • Lindy
        +4

        It’s DISGUSTING that you said that. Dislike of her does NOT equal racism and suggesting that it does is vile and deeply offensive. Shame on you!

        • Jessica
          +2

          And THIS is exactly why we don’t cover Mrs Obama regularly on GFY.

          Everyone, seriously, WATCH IT.

  2. Maria
    +35

    I think she looks beautiful and I love the deep blue dress. I think it’s probably a bit of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” problem. If they would have posed her in more provocative clothing and in a more cutting-edge way, people would have said that she wasn’t representing the presidency properly. So, even though it’s a bit staid, I think it’s entirely appropriate for who she is!

  3. Helen
    +14

    I also have quibbles with the hair, but overall I think this looks great. It’s an unusual, dramatic dress, and I love it. The colors, wall included, are gorgeous and work very well with Mrs. Obama.

    And I particularly love that they didn’t photo-edit her hips away. The First Lady is a bit hippy, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and they didn’t mess with it. Well played.

  4. Deborah Stultz
    +7

    Love her, but I really can’t throw my support behind the bangs. But then again, I am anti-bangs after, say, age 18–max.

    • Carol
      +10

      You clearly don’t have any lines or wrinkles emerging on your forehead … if you ever do, it will change your stance on bangs.

      • Helen
        +5

        I do have those, and I still look terrible in bangs. Much better without.

        But I don’t think the bangs are what’s off with the hair here. It’s just too heavy and severe altogether.

        • Lola
          +1

          The bangs are terrible. They were bad when she cut them, and they are even worse now. There are very few people who pull off bangs well, even if they are good looking.

          • Nancy
            0

            I don’t know, my forehead is big enough to roller skate on. I am thrilled bangs are back in style!

      • Deborah Stultz
        +2

        Oh, I’ve got the lines and wrinkles. On my forehead, around my eyes, and corners of my mouth. But I am not wearing my hair in front of my face to cover up all of the signs of aging. Screw that. Bangs are for little girls, not women. Just my opinion.

        • azqueenie
          +11

          Bangs are also for adults who think their face looks better with them, or who have a slightly wonky hairline. As we used to say, Your mileage may differ.

        • Esme
          +11

          If you had my “fivehead,” you would not take that stance; honestly, I don’t have wrinkles on my forehead, just a whole lot of it, and it’s not pretty naked. I used to think they were childish too, but when I finally broke down and got them, I never got more compliments, so I’ve never looked back.

  5. gina
    +9

    My first thought was that the haircut was too severe, too. And it’s hard to buy that she was just strolling through the house and stopped to perch dramatically on a side table. Otherwise she looks beautiful. I kind of love the dress and the colors.

  6. Tiffany
    +9

    I really love the colors of this. The green and blue with her lipstick are just beautiful. I love her smile and her amazing arms! I think they could have done something more exciting, but I think this is overall a very successful cover photo. Her waist looks tiny!

  7. Rachael
    +29

    Did they do something weird to her face? Like, beyond the usual re-touching? She looks…off. I usually think she looks interesting and beautiful, but something about her face looks, I don’t know, just not like her. It’s vaguely unsettling. Moreover, this cover seems more Ladies Home Journal than Vogue.

    • Helen
      +2

      I think that’s because of the hair, that she looks a little different. It’s really not her best.

    • mwk
      +3

      They’ve airbrushed the hell out if it.

      • Evalyn
        +3

        I agree – too much ‘retouching”. It looks like she’s been sculputed to meet Vogue’s standards instead of looking like herself.

  8. Jamie
    +15

    This… barely looks like Michelle Obama. I mean, she’s recognizable, but only because she has very distinctive features. She’s either lost a startling amount of weight since the Oscars or this has been photoshopped to make her appear thinner than she is, which seems VERY “off message” for someone whose platform is basically proper diet and healthy living. I know it’s Vogue, and I don’t begrudge anyone a little touch up here or there, but those are not Michelle Obama’s arms. And Michelle Obama has fabulous arms, all on her own.

  9. Mouse
    +15

    This looks like Michelle Obama Barbie. She is strangely plastic looking and stiff.

    While I love the colours, I don’t love the pic.

  10. DK
    +6

    I think there’s a photo inside that’s gorgeous (her in a black dress) and I wish they had used that one instead on the cover.

  11. Carol
    +9

    She looks great … she makes the most of what she has (which is a lot) and isn’t afraid to try something new, even though she is a First Lady. I have rarely seen a photo of her that I would deem a FUG … kudos.

  12. Danna
    +2

    I love that vibrant shade of blue on her, and maybe it’s just my monitor but her hair has an odd green cast to it. Overall, I don’t think they did her justice here. In other photos I’ve seen, she’s more beautiful than she appears here.

  13. Sandra
    +5

    She is a beautiful woman and could easily show Beyonce what Fierce is really all about. I love the bold colors but I really hate those bangs. I don’t think they suit her face or her personality at all.

  14. Rayna
    +18

    What I like about FLOTUS is that she is walking proof that health = beauty. She always looks poised, natural, and radiant, and knows how to dress in a way that is flattering and appropriate.

    What I like about the Vogue cover is that they let her be her (or seemed to) and didn’t clutter the otherwise beautifully composed photo.

  15. rowynn
    +2

    I can’t see the First Lady pic – there’s just an empty box there. I was sitting here waiting, thinking maybe the pic just takes a few minutes to show up, and that gave me time to notice the McDonalds ad. What an unfortunate slogan! “If your brain did all the thinking, your mouth would have no fun at all.” Really? You mean, if we really thought about what’s good for us, we wouldn’t buy/eat junk food like Big Macs and Quarter Pounders? Someone in their ad department had a brain fart when they wrote that one.

  16. Eli
    +2

    I seriously hate the hair. It is like a bad wig. I am also not wild about the left half of the dress but I like the right half.

  17. ChristieLea
    +19

    As others have mentioned: the challenge of photographing the First Lady is you have to work within the very narrow parameters of Reverence And Classic Gracefulness. There’s little wiggle room for fun, and considering how people still clutch at their pearls over her bare arms (!!!), there’s very little else they could have done.

    That said: The royal blue dress against the vivid green wall is one of the most glorious colour combos I’ve seen in a while, and the First Lady’s skin is glowing. I call this a Win.

    • Heather
      0

      Yeah, I noted that in the post as well. But I bet she wishes she could break out and have some fun.

      • Daffodil
        +10

        Isn’t that why she got the bangs in the first place? I think she said that she wasn’t allowed to drive a really fast sports car and she wasn’t allowed to skydive, so she took the “I need to shake things up around here” option most available to her: bangs. Which makes me so sad. These bangs are NOT her look. But when all the fun you’re allowed to have is whether the front hairs on your head end at your eyebrows or your chin, well, that’s sad, and it makes me work pretty hard to ignore her bangs. Let FLOTUS have her fun where she can!

  18. annabelle
    +4

    I’m fairly “meh” about the cover.

    But the inside shots (not shown here, sadly) are to die! She is working a warm and real yet regal thing that I’ve come to expect and really appreciate from her.

  19. ErinE
    0

    I get that you can’t do a traditionally Vogue cover with the first lady, but maybe you shouldn’t put her on the cover. It feels so stiff and formal. I think she’s cool and I die for her arms, but it feels forced to me somehow, and I think it’s just not Vogue. I go back and forth on the bangs – I appreciate the risk though.

  20. Qitkat
    +12

    The First Lady’s Evolution of Mom Dancing with Jimmy Fallon recently was hysterically funny and endearing. She obviously was having crazy fun. If she can get away with that, then it seems as if anything goes if she approves. I thought she looked lovely here, wearing such a flattering shade of blue. I like bangs so I haven’t had the negative reaction many people have had. It’s a dignified cover that seems appropriate.

    • Heather
      0

      But that’s different — that makes her relatable. The Obamas are INCREDIBLY media-savvy and very carefully packaged, which is not to say they aren’t also GENUINE but just that they are the smartest we’ve had in the Oval Office when it comes to understanding what the public wants from them and how to deliver it. The dancing with Fallon did exactly that — pure goofyness, relatability. A high-fashion Vogue cover wouldn’t.

  21. TereLiz
    +2

    I like her new hairstyle in other shots, but this pic is a little too hair-helmet adjacent. But other than that, I LOVE the dress, and the colors of the dress and wall together. The pose doesn’t bother me so much as the angle. Taken from above like that, it turns Ms O into a weird doll. I think if it had been more straight on, the positioning of the arms would look more natural. But then we’d see her nostrils. And we can’t have nostrils on the cover of Vogue!

  22. Amanda
    +5

    They have airbrushed the living daylights out of her face and it looks downright bizarre. Other than that, I like it.

  23. Vandalfan
    +1

    I really disagree with that hair style, every time I’ve seen it, and this is no exception. The cover photo is beautiful and stately, but she could have been photographed strolling in the Rose Garden, sniffing a blossom, or walking the dog, or leaning against one of the front columns of the White House portico. Plenty of photographers have gotten fine snapshots of Duchess Kate without making her look undignified.

  24. hillary l.
    +1

    I actually liked her hair more here than I’ve seen it in the past, with the new cut. I actually like this photo more than her official portrait, but for the magazine’s purposes, I kind of wish her dress were green (love that green) and the wall were blue. Or something. Maybe what I want is just for the dress’s color to be a little less expected.

  25. cycler
    +3

    It’s strange that so many people seem to love this shot because I think she’s unrecognizable in it. And no, it’s not just the bangs- it’s something about her mouth and the retouching they’ve done. I saw some of the inside shots and they looked much more like her.

  26. Anna B.
    0

    Evidently Annie Liebowitz did this shoot and she had all these insane ideas for FLOTUS. Of course, Mrs. Obama, being the savvy/sane person she is, put the kabosh on anything too outlandish, which is why her cover shot is so “Ladies Home Journal” as someone referenced above. Also, why is her face so weirdly altered?

  27. Cat
    0

    The colors are great (love the deep blue of the dress) but she seems very stiff and too posed, almost. I get that they have to walk a fine line when doing a magazine cover like this, but I still think it could have been better.

  28. Jen from cincy
    +1

    This image looks so photoshopped to me. Her waist does not look like her natural size and her face looks… different. Other than that, I guess it’s fine. Is that what Vogue was going for? Fine?

  29. Tracey
    +1

    Bangs are not hideous, I’ve had them lots, but the straight down bangs don’t flatter everyone and I agree, this haircut has been too severe from the get-go. I think it is too airbrushed, but the dress and wallpaper are striking together. She looks great and I do realize there is a certain stately-ness that must be observed. The POTUS and FLOTUS are your temporary equivalents to royalty and while more relaxed, they need to behave a certain way.

  30. Meredith
    +3

    The dress is cracking me up — my immediate thought was that Vogue is trying to give the impression of cleavage without actually showing cleavage. Otherwise, it’s okay. I love the blue & green & touch of pink, but the hair looks wiggy to me, as some others said.

  31. Sajorina
    +1

    I think she looks beautiful, the styling is lovely and that is the background of my dreams, but the pose is contrived! I wish they wouldn’t have make her pose and just shot her naturally, like they did with Meryl last year! But, still is probably the best Vogue cover I’ve seen since Keira Knightley last year! FAB!

  32. Popcouver
    +2

    We need a link back to the Vogue predictions post! Who had MO?!

  33. Katharine
    +2

    Like others here, I don’t think the bangs are her most flattering look ever, although at least they’ve been trimmed since the Oscars, when they completely obscured her eyes in a very uncomfy-looking way. (And anyway, it’s just hair, and it grows.)

    I love the colour of the dress, especially with the green, but not the style. I don’t think it looks “blown back” at all, I think it looks as rigidly contrived as a Star Trek uniform, and possibly made by one of their designers.

  34. Maria
    +3

    Her hair looks like a wig and her waist is definitely faux-ly reduced, which is a crime because she is so beautiful and fit all by her lonesome.

  35. Esme
    0

    I think she looks great in the dress, and I love the colors, but she has that smile that people who are somewhat insecure about their looks and who are not models (aka me) squeeze out in posed situations. Otherwise, OK.

  36. Anne B
    +12

    I have Thoughts, of course:

    1) Call me the opposite of the first poster: it’s hard to fairly evaluate a photo of someone I like so much.
    2) I mean, I’m probably looking at one of my top ten favorite smiles in the world here.
    3) That said, it looks like the photographer said to the First Lady. “Everyone’s gonna want to see your arms. Go like this.
    4) I love that dress.
    5) I might really need to have that dress.
    6) But it wouldn’t look like that on me.
    7) You’d think you we could back up a bit on the Photoshop for the First Lady of the United Freaking States, would you not?
    8) Look at that skin! She doesn’t need retouching AT ALL.

  37. Electric Landlady
    +2

    OK, about the number thing, I can’t believe I never heard about this before but apparently Men’s Health has been recycling not just ridiculous numbers, but ENTIRE COVER LAYOUTS for years and years: http://gawker.com/5424291/update-mens-health-stopped-writing-new-cover-lines-years-ago

    (And apparently they sell. What can I tell you. I think this particular cover looks blah, though.)

    • Sajorina
      0

      OMG, “Men’s Health” & “National Geographic” are the only magazines my dad subscribes to! So, yes, they sell!

    • Vandalfan
      0

      Thanks for that link- interesting!

  38. Claire1
    0

    I don’t think it does her justice.
    It’s very unnaturally posed and she looks uncomfortable.
    They kind of took all the shine off of her.
    Her personality just isn’t shining through…and that’s what I love about her.

  39. lin
    +1

    I love the dress on her but I think she looks better without the fringe. Vogue have done their usual job of Photoshopping the life out of the photo.

  40. Aurora
    0

    I haven’t ever liked her bangs; bangs should be eschewed at puberty.

    In this picture, I am more concerned about her mouth. I don’t want to offend, but the word is simian. Clenched jaw, tense lips, and too toothy. What’s that about?

    Love all the saturated color.

  41. sina
    +6

    aurora, just stop. You did offend. . don’t you have any idea of the derogatory use of ‘simian’ to describe African American individuals?

    • Emma
      0

      Agreed, Sina. Aurora, your language is patently racist. I can’t believe it’s so difficult to have a racism-free discussion about the first lady’s outfit.

      • Jessica
        +3

        FOR REAL.

        I have the ability to ban users and I will happily do it. If it occurs to you, “this might be offensive,” a good rule of thumb is to then NOT SAY IT.

  42. Jules
    0

    I enjoy the color scheme. The photoxing makes me anxious.
    I am drawn to her hands, because they are the most real looking part of the picture!

    • anonymoose
      0

      So much so, re the anxiety-inducing photoxing, the allure of the pretty hands. As someone here mentioned, she looks like Michelle Obama Barbie – not a good thing. The pose looks very posed, the camera angle is awkward, and the hair is VERY helmet-y. Totally agree with the commenter who observed that this attire looks to be a Star Trek uniform. At least she is not wearing pearls.

  43. Emma
    +1

    Her face looks amazing, especially with the rosy makeup and the pink blossoms against the kelly green background. Gorgeous.

    I wish the electric-blue dress was less overwhelming. No one has mentioned the belt – is that HALF a belt? Or am I looking at it wrong? Conclusion: I’m buying the magazine, but I’m only keeping the top half. ;)

  44. Sajorina
    0

    I can’t believe GFY Jessica hasn’t popped up in the comments to say “She needs a BRACELET”! Which she probably does… on her right wrist!

  45. cynicalsmirk
    0

    I’m not nuts about the hair, but I think she looks lovely, as always. That being said, I’ve got really mixed feelings about political figures on the cover of fashion magazines. It just somehow feels a frivolous vehicle for people who are not mere celebrities or models. And yet, it’s a good medium for connecting to a huge facet of the population…….gah. I just don’t like it.

  46. SinnerMolly
    0

    This makes me mad at the folks at Vogue. Because if someone told me this was a picture of the Madame Tussaud’s Obama exhibit, that would not surprise me. They airbrushed/photoshopped the life right out of her, which is a shame since Mrs. O is such a vibrant and naturally beautiful woman. (Except that I hate her bangs. I don’t hate bangs as a concept, I just don’t like them on her.)

    • anonymoose
      0

      BINGO part II!

      • anonymoose
        0

        And yes I think it’s totally appropriate for the First Lady to make fashion statements; I just do not like politicians as Vogue covers (for that matter, I also object to non-models – including actresses, singers, musicians – on Vogue covers). Put ‘em on Vanity Fair, or LIFE, but not Vogue.

  47. Skylar Gilbert Estes
    0

    I cannot be objective because I love her so much… and the green wall behind her. I do think it is a bit if a waste of such a fun and gorgeous woman BUT I think they didn’t trash her so I would rather see bleh over oh-what-the-hell. I do wish they would stop photoshopping people, she is a beautiful woman with a lovely figure, why did they need to photoshop her to a size 0?