As the father of two daughters, President Barack Obama is well aware of the pressures women face to look a certain way, but luckily, Malia and Sasha Obama have parents that believe beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. "The fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful," the president said during a conversation with TIME reporter Maya Rhodan and ballerina Misty Copeland last month.
That's definitely clear to see in this adorable pic from last week's state dinner at the White House.
In the interview, the president and Misty had been discussing how one's appearance, particularly if you're African American, plays into being the President of the United States and a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, respectively. Though body image is something that women have long struggled with, the president said African American women particularly feel that pressure. "When I was a kid I didn’t realize as much, or maybe it was even a part of which is the enormous pressure that young women are placed under in terms of looking a certain way. And being cute in a certain way. And are you wearing the right clothes? And is your hair done the right way? And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women," he said. "But it’s part and parcel of a broader way in which we socialize and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance. And so Michelle and I are always guarding against that."
However, it's still challenging for POTUS and the First Lady to teach their daughters to not judge their or anyone else's appearance. "I mean Malia’ll talk about black girl’s hair and will have much opinions of that. And she’s pretty opinionated about the fact that it costs a lot, it takes a long time, that sometimes girls can be just as tough on each other about how they’re supposed to look," he said.
Luckily, young women have a more diverse group of role models to look up to today, such as Misty. "I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more," the president said. "You see Beyoncé or you see some of these pop stars and what both white, Latino, black children are seeing as representative of beauty is much broader than it was when I was a kid. You just didn’t see that much representation. And that’s healthy and that’s encouraging."
However, the president also stressed that young people not only need to see those who look like them succeed, but they also need the opportunities to do so. "I think it’s important for us to remember that it’s not just a matter of providing us a strong image, it’s also making sure that they’ve got good schools, making sure that they’re getting programs that allow them to explore all their talents. Making sure that the economy is working in a way that gives everybody a chance to succeed," he said. "It’s a both and rather than an either or proposition."