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Morgan: Its time for a cover-up
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Michelle Obama has legions of slavish fans and followers and for many good reasons. As First lady, she’s crafted a campaign to reduce and fight childhood obesity that’s affecting remarkable progress.

In Mississippi, a state with some of the highest rates of childhood obesity, there has been a 13 percent drop in those numbers since she began the effort to get kids moving and eating healthier. Along the way, she is having a considerable effect on the food industry with giants such as Walmart trumpeting reductions it’s made in sugar and salt content in foods found in its grocery aisles. Schools across the country are now offering healthy options for lunch instead of so many fried and processed foods along with choices lacking any redeemable nutritional value. Michelle has made exercise and eating right cool.

She’s also championed the case for veterans and their families, pressing the issues of homelessness and joblessness among veterans and building support for families and health care for wounded veterans. Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is her partner in this campaign.

She’s making a difference in many ways that make the lives of many in this country better, but she is certainly not without her critics. Many of these have taken issue with her self-described "mid-life crisis" decision to change her hairstyle with a bang cut.

Her televised appearance as the final presenter at the recent Academy Awards angered some who saw it as unseemly for a first lady and a self-aggrandizing moment for Mrs. Obama. I don’t recall that Laura Bush received similar criticism for her appearance one year. I find most of the criticism of Mrs. Obama to be trivial compared to the good she tries to do.

But here I go with a personal, OK trivial, beef I can’t stifle any longer. It’s the thing about the arms. No doubt Michelle has just about the best set of triceps ever seen on a female — or a first lady, for sure. And she works on it. Both she and the president are known to maintain rigorous physical training regimens.

Her arms are long, lean and well-shaped, and she’s not one to hide one of her best features. I can’t exactly blame her for that. But, here goes — I’ve grown tired of those arms and her wardrobe full of sleeveless dresses and blouses that have reshaped the fashion industry. Sleeveless attire has become the norm, and options are limited whether you’re shopping retail or ordering online. We’re used to government cover-ups, and I’m hereby calling for one in the White House. It’s not too late to salvage this administration.

More particularly, I’d like to see a cover-up imposed on the ranks of television on-air personalities, newsreaders and reporters who are wearing the requisite sleeveless garb, even in the dead of winter. Turn on any morning show and take a gander at the garden party sundresses the anchors wear to work, while out the window the snow is falling and the wind is whipsawing the crowds in Times Square. I clutch my warmest robe around me and try — unsuccessfully — to rationalize what I’m seeing. Clearly, these young — and even not so young — women obviously work on their arms with their personal trainers, but it is winter, ladies, so put on some appropriate clothes! What we are witnessing is a crime against nature.

Local trainer Pam Stillerman notwithstanding, there’s a point when good-looking bare arms just aren’t sustainable for most of us. It is a cruel fate, despite our best efforts. Even if the muscle tone is good, the skin turns crepe-y. The not-so-funny joke is our arms will continue to wave long after we’ve stopped waving our hands. Come summer’s heat, sleeveless dresses and tops become a matter of survival, but until then, I’m all for a ban on summer clothes worn when it’s freezing outdoors.

And while I’m beefing over trivial matters, let’s talk about peep-toe shoes, all the rage for several years now. I’m a pushover when it comes to shoes to begin with, so I’ve tried a few pairs.

But the truth is that one’s toes will push right through those peep-toe openings, unmooring your heels from their secure placement and before you know it, you’ve stumbled out of your shoes and strained or sprained an ankle in trying to right yourself and hoping to avoid major embarrassment. Good luck with that. Now bring me a sweater!

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at