Watching Michelle Obama’s #GimmeFive workout video is a curiously unsettling experience. Over the years Michelle has presented herself to us as gardener, nutritionist, fashion leader, FLOTUS, glamorous global player, hostess, mother, and advocate for healthy living, practicing what she preaches about women, education, fitness, veggies—and daughters. The FLOTUS we’ve come to know is tough, confident, seemingly beloved by (and of) POTUS and fearlessly experimental in her hairstyle choices. We’ve seen her serious, smiling and sophisticated. But in this just released video, (with brand names impossible to ignore by the way), the First Lady shows us she can also be grim, self-absorbed and detached. She is daunting in her athletic prowess, performing five exercises over an insistent musical beat as Obama’s personal trainer, Cornell McClellan becomes our trainer, explaining why “we” do each exercise. In the last frame, Michelle turns to the camera, acknowledges us and downs a glass of water as reminder to ”always drink up.”
But who decided we need this? The stated purpose of this rapid-fire (2:10 minutes) video is to promote healthy exercise by example, but will we the people be inspired—or discouraged—by watching the First Lady doing things we know we will never be able to do? Although the public is well aware of the First Lady’s campaign to make us into a fit and healthy nation, in this video we feel we’re intruding on a private workout, that it’s all about Michelle in her gym with her trainer. It doesn’t really have much to do with us.