Michelle Obama says she straightened her hair because Americans weren't ready for a First Lady with braids

Former First Lady Michelle Obama
Former First Lady Michelle Obama speaks onstage during the Michelle Obama: The Light We Carry Tour at Warner Theatre on November 15, 2022 in Washington, DC.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Live Nation
  • Michelle Obama said she straightened her hair so the US could adjust to a Black family in the White House.

  • "Nope, they're not ready for it," Obama said while recalling her decision, per The Washington Post.

  • "Let me keep my hair straight," Obama said. "Let's get health care passed."

Former First Lady Michelle Obama says she decided to straighten her natural hair instead of keeping it in braids so the US could adjust to having a Black family in the White House.

"Nope, they're not ready for it," Obama said at her book event at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, per The Washington Post.

She added that she wanted to avoid controversy so her husband, former President Barack Obama, could work on policy priorities, per The Post.

"Let me keep my hair straight," she said, adding: "Let's get health care passed."

Obama said that Black women like herself find it easier to bend to White standards of beauty by straightening their hair instead of wearing it in braids, dreadlocks, or Afros, reported The Post. Now, she wears her hair in braids.

"We deal with it, the whole thing about, 'Do you show up with your natural hair?'" Obama said, per ABC affiliate KATV. "That's the African American experience."

Obama also cited how her husband attracted controversy just for wearing a tan suit in 2014, per The Guardian.

The former president was attacked for wearing a beige suit at a White House news conference. This was a fashion choice that New York Republican Peter King, among others, called a demonstration of his "lack of seriousness."

"They tripped out when Barack wore a tan suit," Michelle Obama said. "The great indignity, the scandal of the Obama administration."

According to a 2020 report from the American Bar Association, 80% of African American women said they felt pressure to change their natural hair to look more acceptable to their non-Black peers. This March, however, the House passed the Crown Act, which bans race-based hair discrimination.

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