Sheila Garrison, an educator from Maryland, called the hairstyle "different," but all the attention paid to it brought home to her and her friend, fellow teacher Patricia Cooper, that Mrs. Obama "represents women in a beautiful way," in Cooper's words. "You look at her and you are proud to be a woman. She commands respect." Garrison, 58, also appreciated how Mrs. Obama, a fellow tall woman, "carries herself really well."
Mattece Mason, 34, of Tulsa, Okla., adores the cut — when asked about, it she and her family members — well, the females — screamed, "Oh my God, we love it!" But the enthusiasm of her daughters was meaningful to Mason for a reason other than fashion. "My daughter Aubrianna, who's 14, said to me today: 'I want bangs now,'" Mason said. "That made me feel great because my girls have such a role model. A first lady they can emulate." (Mason also mentioned she thought Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton looked great in those eyeglasses she's been sporting lately.)
And Roslyn Snow, of Newport Beach, Calif., had another reason for loving the new Obama look. "I think she looks like Jane Fonda back in the old days," said Snow, 76. "Remember?"
A SIGN OF SOMETHING BIGGER?: Many have wondered whether Mrs. Obama has plans to forge a new role in the second term, taking on different issues. Wells, the fashion editor, gets that feeling, though she makes clear it's all speculation. "You sense it with the strong statement she is making with her appearance," Wells says. "Before, her look was sort of retrograde: the hair, the A-line dresses. The emphasis was on 'lady.' Now, it seems, the emphasis is on 'first lady.'"
A POLITICAL STATEMENT?: Josh, Clarkson's stylist, likes to see a broader message in the haircut choice. "Think about President Obama's statement in his speech about gay people as equals. It was so forward-looking. Mrs. Obama was saying something similar, I'd like to think. She was putting America into the position of a forward-thinking country."
Or not. "Of course," adds Josh, "she could just have been bored with her hair the old way."
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