Michelle Obama Depicted As a Slave in Spain. Say What?


Michelle Obama
Racist or Bad Journalism?

I am married to a Spaniard. I have lived in Spain. I consider the Iberian peninsula my home away from home. But I still cringe and throw up my hands in disbelief when the country that created el esposo, keeps putting themselves on the national stage with racially provocative misdeeds.

The latest is this magazine cover from a Spanish publication called Fuera de Serie. As you can see, First Lady Michelle Obama’s face has been superimposed on the body of the famous painting of a French slave, created in 1800. The original painting, Portrait d’une négresse, now hangs in the Lourve in Paris. In addition to adding Michelle Obama’s face, the artist also added the touch of wrapping her in the American flag. In the original painting, the slave woman is draped in pure white.

Now, let’s get a few fact straight. The artist who created this image of our FLOTUS is not Spanish. She’s a French woman who has entire series of pictures where she’s photo-shopped famous people’s heads onto equally famous works of art. It’s her thing. On the other hand, it was a Spaniard who decided to select this particular image of Michelle Obama for their cover story that is headlined “Michelle Se Come Obama.” The entire article is about the incredible popularity Michelle Obama has in this country, how important her role in the upcoming election will be, and how she is a real asset to Obama’s presidency. In other words, it’s a very positive piece about FLOTUS. As a journalist then, I can only think one thing about the chosen cover image, considering the content of the story. Epic fail. Image and content are too widely divergent. In other words, the picture don’t help further the mission of the story.  What’s more, taken out of the context of the artist’s other nude works of famous people, this image of our First Lady appears to have been chosen simply to shock and provoke.

It seems to me, that the editorial staff at Fuera de Seire thought they would garner a whole bunch of attention by using this image on the cover of their magazine. And look, it worked. I don’t think, however, as many people on the internet claim, that the image was used to deliberately debase and disgrace Ms. Obama or Black women the world over. I think this is another case (sigh) of Spanish people’s infinite ignorance of American racial politics. They just don’t get how deep it goes. And quite frankly, I don’t think they want to get it. Does that make it okay that they chose this image? No. Ignorance is never an excuse. And I think they should issue an apology to our First Lady.  But I do not believe this was an intentionally racist act on the part of the magazine’s editorial staff. But I could be wrong.

What do you think, dear readers? Did the magazine do wrong? Was it racist or just in poor taste and kind of stupid? Maybe you think it’s a fabulous picture that should be on the cover of the magazine. I’d like to hear other people’s opinions.

I’m totally listening.


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8 Thoughts to “Michelle Obama Depicted As a Slave in Spain. Say What?”

  1. Melessia

    if i remember michelle obama wasn’t the only one who was taken the piss by the magazine….

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Not sure what you mean with your comment. Can you elaborate please?

  2. It’s tasteless.

    Have a great day!

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Thanks for sharing. I know a lot of people feel the same way.

  3. Anazette

    I think a lot of this is simple ignorance, beginning with the French artist who initially altered the portrait to include Michelle Obama’s face and the Spanish magazine deciding to use it, possibly for shock value and attention. As someone who has traveled and is living abroad and interacting with the locals, not all cultures have a politcally correct stance on things or talk openly about race like we do in America. When it comes to the racial history of America, there are things non-Americans won’t get and I accept that. I’m a black woman and I don’t feel this was done to intentionally spite Michelle Obama. I used to live in Spain and based on what I observed in relation to putting a woman’s bare breasts on display on magazine covers and an overall comfort with nudity, on top of the access to nude beaches, this choice of an image may be playing into what may fly in their culture. Mrs. Obama is obviously popular in their country, so maybe filtered through the mind of a Spaniard, they may think this image is flattering. I wouldn’t expect them to have the same filter for racial senstivitiy or hesitancy to show a woman’s breasts on a non-adult centered popular magazine that operates in the psyches of many Americans. I wouldn’t expect a Spaniard to think like an American or understand the racial politics of our society. Now, obviously if this were to happen in America, it would’ve sparked controversy and debate and some sort of public apology would’ve been requested. Overall, I’m just trying to look at this from Spaniard’s viewpoint.

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      I think you’re doing the right thing, “trying to look at this from a Spaniard’s viewpoint.” And we can’t expect Spaniards to think like Americans and vice versa, but still, I think if we put the Spanish Queen on the cover of a magazine with her breasts uncovered, we might need to apologize as well. Not b/c it’s wrong, but because it’s just not nice.

  4. Melanie

    Unfortunately, comments that are in poor taste and are stupid are also racist and hopefully something we learn from. See also: http://gawker.com/5924561/utah-magazine-celebrates-its-white-women-of-color

    1. Ms. Meltingpot

      Thanks, Melanie. Point well taken.


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