January 30 2013
Is Michelle Moving On?
According to reports, the First Lady is shopping for a new cause (shiver). White House Dossier reports:
Mrs. Obama does not appear to have done anything much to personally publicize the initiative in more than four months – since she released a video in early September welcoming children back to school and telling them about the “healthy, delicious new choices” on school lunch menus. In August she had a “Kids’ State Dinner” at the White House to showcase healthy eating.
Michelle’s exit from the Let’s Move campaign coincided with growing reports and a widely circulated satirical video alleging that the new food guidelines were leaving children hungry. The bad publicity clashed with President Obama’s efforts to stir support among young voters for his candidacy. Many of Obama’s campaign events were held at high schools – presumably among students who might have been attending rallies on relatively empty stomachs.
Since the election, Michelle has not revived her participation in the Let’s Move campaign. Nevertheless, the White House website devoted to the initiative continues to operate, though blog posts on the site are written less frequently than before.
This is good news. Frankly, I think the First Lady should lend her considerable cache to more important issues, but I do hope the First Lady continues to focus on childhood obesity in one narrow area--telling parents to start taking a bigger role in their children's nutritional development.
After all, in this area, her story is compelling. As I've written before, the First Lady has spoken affectionately of the community in which she spent her childhood. In a 2010 speech before the NAACP, she explained that she grew up in a neighborhood where the kids "had to walk to and from school every day, rain or shine." She has explained that when she was growing up, "there was no way we'd be allowed to lie around the house watching TV"; parents, she notes, "made us get up and play outside...riding bikes, playing softball, freeze tag, jumping double-dutch." The first lady explained that her family rarely ate out, adding that, "even when both parents worked outside of the home, most families in my neighborhood sat down at the table together as a family for a meal." And she cited her own mother as an example of why parents are so important in helping children form good eating habits:
[I]n my house, Marian Robinson's house, we ate what we were served. My mother never cared whether me or my brother liked what was on our plates. We either ate what was there or we didn't eat. It was as simple as that. We never ate anything fancy, but the portion sizes were reasonable and there were rarely seconds — maybe for your father, but not for you. And there was always a vegetable on the plate...[T]here was no expectation of dessert after our meals. And we didn't dream of asking for soda or pop. That was for special occasions.
Michelle Obama mimicked her mother when caring for her own girls. Prior to kicking off the Let's Move campaign, Obama made several speeches and media appearances in which she cited being told by Sasha and Malia's pediatrician that "something was getting off balance," Mrs. Obama decided that she needed to get more involved — by making small but significant changes to the girls' diets, and requiring her daughters to watch less television and get more exercise. After her intervention, Mrs. Obama reported, the girls' weight got back under control.
These are the type of stories that impact parents and ultimately help children.
So, goodbye to Let's Move, but hopefully Mrs. Obama will still speak out on the importance of proper parenting.