Glamour and appearance have always been essential to the Office of the First Lady. Despite contrary belief, being the First Lady does not only entail fashion, beauty and decorating selections. She is so much more than what the media portrays her as being. She serves as a role model for American women. Before she becomes the First Lady, she serves as the primary candidate’s surrogate.
Potential First Ladies Ann Romney and Michelle Obama spoke at the recent national conventions. Their speeches focused on their relationship with a candidate that she knows both as a husband and a father. Their job in these speeches was to show a softer side of each candidate.
Ann Romney spoke at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Her speech allowed electorates to see Mitt Romney as being more personally appealing, essentially humanizing him.
“I know this good and decent man for what he is. He's warm and loving and patient. He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith and love of one fellow man,” said Romney at the convention. “From the time we were first married, I have seen him spend countless hours helping others. I've seen him drop everything to help a friend in trouble and been there when late-night calls of panic come from a member of our church whose child has been taken to the hospital.”
Not only did she humanize her husband, she personalized herself as well. The core of Romney’s speech concentrated on love and women, predominantly appealing to mothers. She helped him appeal more to women who have been skeptical of the Republican Party's positions regarding women’s issues.
A week later, Michelle Obama spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The convention started out rocky, with a change of venue and other issues. Nevertheless, Obama’s speech captivated those in attendance.
She brought tears to the crowd as she described the struggles that her and President Obama went through before he was elected to the White House. It allowed middle- and lower-class Americans to relate with him on an emotionally deeper level.
Her main focus was describing to the crowd that her husband was still the same man that she fell in love with 23 years ago. She gave personal insight about President Obama that no one else could.
“You see, even though back then Barack was a Senator and a presidential candidate…to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out,” said Obama during her speech. “I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door…he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small.”
Although we have not had a woman president elected, the First Lady plays a critical role in the White House. As the popular saying goes, “Behind every successful man is a strong woman.”