Michelle Obama’s seemingly innocuous decision to wear a white bikini while holidaying with her daughter in Miami has prompted an online debate about body shaming, racism and the media’s treatment of US presidential spouses.
Photos of the 53-year-old former first lady wearing a white bikini top and shorts during a beach day with her eldest daughter Malia, 19, quickly spread online, with many celebrating Mrs Obama’s sense of style and super-fit physique.
Michelle Obama out in Miami Beach in an all white ensemble featuring a high waist bikini and shorts and silver hoops is what I like to call A MF MOOD !!!!! My First Lady is stunting on y’all. Watch out. pic.twitter.com/QXWXdWzVTp
— T. (@tkwilliamss) January 15, 2018
But the backlash was just as enthusiastic, with some on Twitter making derogatory comments about her weight or suggesting Mrs Obama was dressed inappropriately and too old to wear a bikini.
Headline was Michelle Obama rockin' it in a white bikini, hmmm, this is not a bikini and if this is rockin' it, I love it. I'm not one to judge, however it does not look like she has been eating broccoli and lettuce. pic.twitter.com/8ZxCzciiqN
— Americhicks (@Americhicks) January 17, 2018
The latter prompted outrage from the former, with many Obama supporters highlighting the double standards of Trump voters who were unfazed by Donald Trump’s questionable conduct yet offended by Mrs Obama’s bikini top.
Mrs Obama’s outing with her daughter came days after The Washington Post reported a lawyer for Mr Trump paid an adult film star $US130,000 to stay quiet about a sexual encounter she had with the President prior to him taking office.
“Imagine being so hypocritical that you’d ignore a presidential sex scandal but get p***ed over a black woman wearing beach appropriate clothes to the damn beach,” one tweeter said.
Social media commentators also raised Mr Trump’s wife Melania’s nude photograph scandal, in which images from an old photoshoot for a men’s magazine were leaked during the 2016 election.
“Kinda funny how all these … nuts are talking smack about Michelle Obama wearing a white bikini and cutoff shorts on the beach as ‘trashy’ and pretending Melania has ‘more class’,” wrote one Twitter user.
The discussion happened to coincide with Martin Luther King Day, a US federal holiday marking the birthday of late civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr, and social media commentators were quick to suggest the extra scrutiny heaped upon Mrs Obama was a byproduct of racism.
Mrs Trump was also the recipient of online ire after she tweeted about the commemorative day and suggested the US was “continually striving for equality and justice for all”.
Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & his service to this great country. I am honored to be First Lady of a nation that continually strives for equality & justice for all. #MLKDay
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 15, 2018
“Have you met your husband lately?” the Twitter community asked, following the revelation Mr Trump had labelled African nations “s–––holes” during a meeting on immigration.
Mrs Obama, meanwhile, stayed quiet about the bikini furore but was happy to retweet her husband’s words about MLK Day.
“A permanent inspiration for the rest of us to keep pushing towards justice,” Mr Obama wrote.
The Obamas have been enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle – and dress sense – since Barack Obama left office in January 2017, taking plenty of tropical holidays while he writes a memoir about his presidency and Mrs Obama writes her own book.
A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on
Mrs Obama’s bikini outing with Malia was part of a mother-daughter weekend in Miami during Malia’s winter break from Harvard University, where she is currently undertaking her freshman year.
Mrs Obama, a self-avowed fitness fanatic who used her husband’s time in office to promote healthy habits for schoolchildren, recently revealed her newfound downtime hadn’t interrupted her fitness regime.
“When I was at the White House, I often hosted bootcamp weekends for my close girlfriends,” Mrs Obama captioned a photo of herself working out.
“It didn’t matter that we were all at varying fitness levels. Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first. And even though I’m no longer at the White House, I’ve continued this tradition.”
Bring on the bikinis.