In recent weeks, Michelle Obama has been featured in multiple photos wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses (including official portraits, magazine covers, and her husband’s address to Congress). As we’ve all seen, the woman has awesome arms. While some people have commented that she’s taking the bare-arms look to an extreme, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being proud of something you’ve worked so hard to obtain.
Let's face it, even if everything on Ms. Obama’s body was as toned as her arms, it wouldn’t be appropriate for her to show it in public. She may have enviable legs, but we’ve only seen them from the knees down (that’s all I’ve ever seen, at least). And if she had six-pack abs, it’s not like she could walk around in midriff-bearing tops. The arms are her only option.
Defined arms are an outward, easy-to-see symbol of physical strength. I’ve been checking out my arms in the mirror ever since I started lifting weights regularly in the summer of 2007, and I wouldn’t be surprised if every lady who’s ever purposefully hoisted a dumbbell has done the same.
Last year I went out of my way to compliment a woman whose arms I admired in a public restroom -- and she was thrilled. I can’t help it. I like seeing a woman with muscles in her arms. I’m not talking about gigantic, over-inflated, steroid-assisted, body-building arms. I’m talking about arms that look like they could hoist heavy things with ease instead of having to ask for help. I feel proud when someone notices my arms, and I suspect that’s the same feeling Michelle Obama gets when she wears something sleeveless.
One fitness blogger in particular, MizFit, has inspired many readers -- not only with her toned arms, but with the advice and encouragement she gives to help people achieve similar results. MizFit has a great motto that I’ve adopted as one of my own: “Don't be afraid to take up space in the world.” I take "space," in this instance, to mean not being afraid of physical strength -- physical power -- and not being apologetic.
Results don’t happen overnight, so it’s important to stay motivated. It took months before I noticed a discernible change in the shape of my arms, but it will be different for everyone depending on your starting point and how much effort you’re willing to put in.
As for having arm-lust, I admit that I do. For Michelle Obama’s arms, for MizFit’s, for the random lady I met in the restroom last year, and for my own. If someone is proud of their arms, they shouldn't be afraid to show it -- I don’t care whether they’re 20 years old, or 40, or 60. It doesn’t matter if they do manual labor for a living or if they’re First Lady of the United States. Michelle Obama isn’t hiding her physical assets, and neither am I.
When you see a pair of toned, muscular arms on a woman, does it make you want to work harder?
I’m not the only one who finds it interesting when so much attention is placed on someone’s arms. Via email, BlogHer contributing editor Megan Smith said:
I just find it interesting the interpretations that can be made by someone wearing something sleeveless and exposing a part of her body that signifies strength.
The arms carry things, the arms embrace, the stronger they are, it's perceived, the stronger the woman. The subtle cues and how we react to them are fascinating.
Lynn’s Weigh says Thank You, Michelle Obama!
I’d like to thank the First Lady for encouraging me to go for three sets on the strength training today. After the first two, I whined, “Ugh, I’m tired, I want to stop.” Then I remembered the picture of Michelle Obama in that rockin’ pink dress on the cover of People magazine last week. Do you see those arms? Um...yeah...I want me some of those.
Vanessa: Unplugged says First Lady Michelle Obama Looks Fabulous: Deal with it!
It’s such a shame that media air time has been wasted on the First Lady’s penchant for sleeveless ensembles. [...] [She] has awesome arms and legs. Actually, she has the total package so let’s just admire her for practicing proper nutrition and exercise rather than the foolishness about her arms on display.
Irish Times: Kate Holmquist says First Lady spurs new arms race.
Pleasing her man by appearing feminine and frail is not a look that Michelle Obama pursues, or would even consider. Yet, her arms aren’t too muscular; they’re within the boundaries of acceptable female strength. No steroids here, just the discipline for early morning work-outs. [...]
Arms that can work and hold and inspire are an erogenous zone that all women can aspire to, while remaining intelligent women, because arms are as androgynous as they are erogenous. Well-toned arms say: “I’m a woman, I’m equal but I’m still beautiful.”
Leslie Goldman from Never Say Diet agrees that Michelle Obama is a positive fitness role model.
At first blush, all the focus on her upper body (versus her brains, for example) made me mad. But the more I write about it, I realize it could be flipped around and looked at from a positive light -- she can serve as a wonderful fitness role model for young girls and women across the nation -- and the world. She is such a high-profile figure and she exercises, stays strong and places an emphasis on taking good care of her body without being too thin. That could go a long way towards inspiring others to do the same.
New York Times: Michelle Obama Goes Sleeveless, Again
Huffington Post: Michelle Obama Loves to Flaunt Her Arms
Orlando Sentinel: Michelle Obama's arms are becoming her trademark
On BlogHer, Liz Gumbinner recently talked about the First Lady’s right to bare her arms.
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