Michelle Obama trumped Melania Trump in winning the hearts of Americans. And the reason why may have Trump livid.
In a Gallup poll, released Wednesday, of Americans on the woman living anywhere in the world they most admire, Obama was No. 2, with 7% of those polled saying they most admired her.
The No. 1 spot went to Hillary Clinton, with 9%.
Melania Trump, meanwhile, took the eighth spot, with 1%.
During each’s time as the first lady, Trump and Obama primarily focused on nonpartisan issues like nutrition and bullying — an obvious contrast to Clinton’s freedom and responsibility to address things head-on as a presidential candidate. And for better or worse, Obama and Trump have been judged on their public presentation as well as their social and political efforts.
The difference is that Obama found ways to use fashion to bolster her political credibility and show that she is likable. Michelle Obama became famous for her appreciation of Target and J. Crew fashion as the first lady. She used it to appear as an accessible yet aspirational “mom in chief.”
Obama’s fashion was often used to symbolize her social initiatives. One of her best-known acts as a first lady was establishing the White House garden in 2009, which went hand in hand with her efforts to reduce rates of childhood obesity with initiatives such as the “Let’s Move” campaign and school-nutrition regulations.
Obama also used the garden as a place to showcase her down-to-earth fashion. Vogue said in its review of Obama’s 2012 book, “American Grown,” that “throughout the book, the first lady, always beautifully coiffed, wears a different J. Crew sweater to match the season (marigold yellow for summer, argyle for fall).”
Trump, meanwhile, has come under fire for some of her more expensive outfits which showcase how laughably out-of-touch the new First Family is. The first lady has scaled back somewhat after her clothing choices sparked criticism — you most likely won’t spot her in another $51,000 coat— but her wardrobe is still notably more expensive and has more designer labels than Obama’s.
That’s not to say the first lady is not without her supporters. Becoming Americans’ eighth-most-admired woman in the world is nothing to sneer at, especially since Trump ranked higher than notable names such as Kate Middleton and Beyoncé.
But the bottom line is that Americans demand substance — not just style. Obama managed to use her fashion choices to make political statements.
Trump is beginning to do the same, making adjustments like adopting a disaster-zone uniformthat stands in stark contrast to her typical high-fashion looks.
But there’s still a lot the first lady could learn from her predecessor.
Do you miss having Michelle Obama in the White House?