Sexism, Racism, and Michelle Obama

It's Michelle Obama's 50th birthday, and we're psyched to celebrate the woman that is likely our fiercest First Lady in the history of First Ladydom. This is certainly a time to recall Michelle’s major accomplishments in her role as First Lady, like encouraging healthy living, supporting military families, planting an organic garden at the White House, and just generally being a badass.

But despite her fabulosity, Michelle Obama has unfortunately been the target of a lot of really disgusting sexist attacks from right wingers, Fox News pundits, and even people who call themselves liberals. Because sexism rears its ugly head in a particularly nasty way for black women, these criticisms are much harsher than if they were of Laura Bush or even Hillary Clinton.

I’ve rounded up the five most ridiculously sexist (and racist) reasons that Michelle Obama has faced attack in her six years as First Lady. I think it’s important to remember these criticisms, especially on her birthday. The same media outlets who lobbed these criticisms (looking at you, Fox News), will spend today complimenting her, and then head straight back to the vitriol tomorrow.

1. Because she glared at her husband on camera

While attending the memorial service for South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama’s selfie with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt resulted in a lot of criticism of both Obamas, but particularly Michelle. After giving Barack what looked to be a “you’re fucking up” glare, the entire Internet promptly decided that Michelle was either being bitchy to her husband, or was jealous of a white woman.

2. Because she took a vacation with her daughter

Michelle Obama really can’t catch a break. After taking a family trip to Spain last year with “minimal staff and close family friends,” some ding-dong at the New York Daily News described the First Lady as a “modern-day Marie Antoinette.” It’s interesting that presidential families taking vacations is only problematic when it’s the first black president’s family. I don’t really remember Fox News giving Laura Bush much shit over her extensive travel calendar.

3. Because she made a harmless joke

The Marie Antoinette theme seems to be a pretty common criticism for conservatives to lob at Michelle Obama. During a guest appearance on Nickelodeon’s iCarly in 2012, Michelle Obama surprised the characters on the show to commend them for supporting the troops. In one scene, one of the characters calls Obama “your excellency” as a joke, to which the First Lady responds “I kind of like it!” Right wing bloggers responded with a double-whammy racist and sexist political cartoon, depicting Mrs. Obama as an overly muscular and “uppity” Marie Antoinette. It’s a shame that these idiots can’t be just a little more creative.

4. Because she buys some clothes sometimes, and they happen to be fashionable

Nothing is discussed more than Michelle Obama’s wardrobe. Whether she’s wearing Oscar de la Renta or a cardigan from Target, she’s bound to face some criticism from someone who will claim that she’s inappropriate for wearing sleeveless dresses, she’s spending too much on her wardrobe, or that she’s wearing “cheap” clothes to pander to people that think she’s elitist. The First Lady really can’t win when it comes to clothing, which is real shame, considering she’s probably the most fashionable presidential wife since Jackie O.

5. Because she has a body, and it’s not good enough for the GOP

This extensive body-shaming of Michelle Obama is the thing that is perhaps the most mind-boggling for me. As she turns 50 today, go take a look at how beautiful, toned, and just downright flawless Michelle Obama is, no matter what she wears. She barely looks a day over 37, but right-wing pundits have called her ugly, fat, and “manly,” for whatever reason. Some of these jerks even call her "Moochelle" in their published media. UGH. These types of criticisms are particularly rich coming from Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. I’m just sayin’.

Let’s just hope that Michelle responds to these assholes in the same way she does to being stuck sitting beside John Boehner: