Robin Givhan misses the point

Buried in the middle of Robin Givhan's remarkably defensive screed against Michelle Obama's “jarring” and “common” decision to wear shorts on a recent outing at the Grand Canyon is this throwaway line:

Obama's thigh-skimming shorts speak to body confidence and athleticism rather than fashion, sex appeal or coquettishness.

It's a shame Givhan chose not to elaborate on that. If we stipulate to Givhan's contention that what the First Lady wears matters, we might well come to the conclusion that Michelle Obama's “body confidence” is something to be applauded, particularly in a society that has long done everything possible to undermine the confidence women have in their bodies. We might well conclude that a First Lady who demonstrates to millions of American women that you don't have to be a size zero to be comfortable and confident is doing something remarkably positive and important.

But instead of exploring that possibility, Givhan sniffs that Michelle Obama's outfit was insufficiently “polished” and “aesthetically respectful.” And that's a shame. Givhan had an opportunity to say something important, if only she had seen it.