As First Lady, Michelle Obama promoted physical and mental health in these 5 different ways.
- Advancement of equal rights and opportunities: The Obamas’ mere presence in office helped people to adapt to seeing people who appear “different” in positions of power. Everyone has expectations about what a leader should look like, and television, movies, advertising, and other forms of media and entertainment have tragically conditioned those assumptions in the past. Those who do not fit into these preconceptions are hampered as a result (e.g., if you are a woman, black, Asian, disabled, gay, nerd, etc.). As the recent presidential election demonstrated, America is still a long way from being post-racial and post-gender. However, the Obamas’ presence, as well as their appointment of more diverse staff, should help more people understand that leadership is about what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside.
- Raised much-needed awareness of the pediatric obesity epidemic: Childhood obesity is a global problem that has been developing since the 1980s, and it will not be fixed by a single individual or in two presidential terms. Michelle Obama, on the other hand, drew a lot more attention to the problem and kicked off several major programs, including founding Let’s Move! These programs have brought together important stakeholders from the business and governmental sectors, academia, medicine, and other fields to collaborate on childhood obesity prevention.
- Better food labeling: Who doesn’t want to know what’s in their food? The FLOTUS worked with the American Beverage Association to make calorie labeling on beverages more obvious and helped bring in the first substantial revisions in the Nutrition Facts in almost 20 years, such as finally placing “added sugars” on the label.
- Encouraged physical exercise: Another key cause of childhood obesity is a lack of physical activity. Similar to eating, the environment in which children grow determines how much they move. As a result, FLOTUS and her staff set out to transform the environment for a large number of children. The United States Tennis Association, for example, constructed or remodeled 10,000 youth-sized tennis courts as part of the Let’s Move! The initiative, organized events to encourage youngsters to play tennis and educated many more instructors to assist kids to learn tennis.
- Demonstrated how to deal with unjustified criticism: Has any President and First Lady duo faced more unreasonable criticism and assaults than the Obamas? How many presidents’ birthplaces have been called into question? How many presidents and first ladies have received such disparaging remarks about their appearance, such as Beverly Whaling, a West Virginia mayor, who called them “apes in heels”? The racist reactions to the Obamas were heartbreaking, and they squandered a lot of time, effort, and energy. Both Obamas, on the other hand, handled similar situations with composure, maintaining cool while refusing to back down.