The May 2013 issue of Vogue magazine featured Michelle Obama on the cover. Inside, the interview covers parenting, fashion, Hillary Clinton, and about this briefly, “the first lady’s iniatives, childhood nutrition and health.”
In the July issue there is a rather churlish response from logorrheic letter writer Felicia Nimue Ackerman of Providence, Rhode Island noting that it’s lovely to see Michelle’s stylish clothing but asking that the first lady not tell us what to eat how much to exercise.
Did people fuss this much when Lady Bird asked us to plant gardens and beautify our country? I remember people laughing at Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No initiative because it was just so glib, but no one in this saucer-eyed nation of screen watchers fumed when Laura Bush asked us to read more.
And Michelle Obama seems to come by this concern honestly. I remember a story she told at the beginning of the first campaign about taking her daughters to the pediatrician who told her they were pushing the high side of ideal weight. It was the fruit juice. I was surprised that it hadn’t occurred to this intelligent, educated woman that fruit juice is mostly empty calories.
Just as it doesn’t occur to most Americans that most processed food is no good for you. Or that a softball-sized bagel is not a healthy breakfast, that you don’t need 16 ounces to quench your thirst, or that a cup of coffee topped with whipped cream and syrup is a dessert not a breakfast drink.
Why are we so irate over initiatives to educate about healthy eating, especially when we are fat and sick. As the CDC points out, childhood obesity is epidemic, it is worldwide, and has serious public health implications. It also is caused by environmental factors and while there are straightforward solutions, those solutions are politically difficult.
So let the first lady garden and exercise, and like a good American, you are free to ignore her. Ms. Ackerman, can I offer you an apple?