"I get embarrassed when people stand up and clap for me," First Lady Michelle Obama said on Thursday. She was recalling the night before, at the State of the Union, when President Obama gave her a shout out. "I really don't know what to do. Do I wave?"
Mrs. Obama was in the House gallery with an assortment of guests on Wednesday night. Obama acknowledged her and said this year she is "creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier." Noting the applause, Obama said, "Thank you. She gets embarrassed."
Now let's consider what Mrs. Obama wore to the State of the Union -- a dress and coat by the American designer Isaac Mizrahi -- because it got a lot of attention. Mizrahi posted a video blog t
his morning just kvelling about having the First Lady wearing one of his outfits, a plum dress with sleeves that covered most of her buffed arms.
"Forget the dress, the new bob is divine," Mizrahi said of the haircut Mrs. Obama got a few weeks ago. "Right, the new bob is really gorgeous. Plus, the dress was pretty good, I must say."
"It was the right dress at the right moment, which is what fashion is all about, right? It was kind of like the politics of the clothes. You know, she was saying, 'not left, not right', it was sort of like a bipartisan dress," he said about his silk and knit number.
Mizrahi gushed about Mrs. Obama wearing his dress when he worked out Thursday morning. "The whole gym was just abuzz with the news. I'm so happy. Reeling with happiness," Mizrahi said.
The reviews on the blogs of the Mizrahi-clad Mrs. Obama were upbeat. Over at Lifeline, a USAToday blog, a poll of 1,344 clickers found 56 percent said the dress was "purple perfection," 33 percent said, "I don't hate it; I don't love it" and 11 percent said, "It's a monochromatic mess."
What did you think of the dress?
While you're mulling that over, let me tell you about how Mrs. Obama on Thursday motorcaded to a YMCA in Alexandria, Va., to deliver a speech setting the stage for the official launch in a few weeks of an initiative to combat childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama is the administration's lead on obesity and she's doing a slow roll out of the details to build up public interest in the formal announcement.
Last week, she addressed the U.S. Conference of Mayors about "best practices" of some cities to contribute to healthier citizens. She has talked several times about the public-private partnerships she wants to create to enhance opportunities for kids to have a more active lifestyle and better access to alternatives to fast food. Obesity is a particular problem in some minority communities without easy access to supermarkets, much less farmers markets.
The peg for Mrs. Obama's speech was the release of a report by the Surgeon General about the increase in childhood obesity. Before her speech, she toured the YMCA playroom, with games that encouraged kids to exercise.
Mrs. Obama, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, revealed more of the contours of the anti-obesity drive:
1. Combating junk food advertisements aimed at kids. "Every eight minutes you have a junk food ad," Sebelius said. "And now those ads have spread to video games and Web sites."
2. Increasing access to healthy foods. Mrs. Obama said parents tell her they want to feed their kids fresh produce but it is difficult "if you don't live anywhere near a place that sells fresh produce."
3. Making good food cheaper. "In these tough economic times, buying healthy foods unfortunately feels like a luxury for too many families," Mrs. Obama said.
4. Promoting exercise by boosting funding for local schools, parks and playgrounds. "Recess and PE are gone for many kids in communities all across the country. Parks and playgrounds and after school sports are few and far between in too many neighborhoods," Mrs. Obama said.
5. Providing healthy options at school lunches. Congress this year is supposed to take up school lunch legislation.
When the program is finally officially announced, Mrs. Obama said it will include the federal government, business, nonprofit organizations and foundations in a series of partnerships.
Said Mrs. Obama, "The approach has to be ambitious. It can't just be lockstep. It's got to be something meaningful and powerful."