Michelle Obama Body Language Shows She’s Disgusted By Saudis and Lack of Head Scarf Makes A Loud Statement

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Michelle Obama’s body language clearly shows that she is no fan of the Saudis. For one, she refused to wear a head scarf during the visit. This apparently upset Saudi’s and other Muslims throughout the world as was reported in the press. While one could think that she may have made a mistake or breached social protocol because she wasn’t aware of the customs this was clearly not the case.  .

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In 2010 when she visited Indonesia, she respectfully donned a head  scarf for her visit. So she clearly knows the rules and the drill in Muslim countries. But this time she decided that she didn’t want to show respect for the Saudi’s as she went bare headed.Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 7.26.39 PMWhile she may consider herself very special  on American soil where she gets a lot of attention,  on Saudi land hardly anyone  shook her hand or even spoke to her.  This clearly disturbed her as you can see from her soured look and her angrily grabbing on to her own wrist with a fist-like handf. This clealrly showed that Michelle was angry.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 7.26.12 PMShe hated being in the  background  in this very patriarchal society and detested  not acknowledged. Here we see her looking at her husband getting all the attention while she is essentially ignored.

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Her angry faced expressions continued throughout the visit as she could not hide her contempt.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 7.17.27 PMShe was clearly upset and angry as you can see by the protrusion of her lower jaw and her forcefully bracing herself by pressing her one hand over the other in front of her private area. What this pose says is that she is not only angry but feeling extremely vulnerable in this country where women don’t seem to matter – not even a visiting First Lady from the United States of America.

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Her angry and disgusted looks continued throughout the visit as you can see. On the one hand, as a Western woman who can blame Michelle for her feelings where women are not allowed to drive, have no independence and need the permission of a male relative (husband, grandfather, father,  uncle, brother, or son) to do anything. There is no such thing as women walking alone  on the street at their own free will. Women can only go to women doctors and study in classes where there are only women.Women have little or no value except to marry and have children. If their husband wants to take multiple wives, they have no say. They also cannot initiate a divorce and their husband. However their husband can get rid of them just by uttering that they are divorcing their wife. There is no such thing as alimony and if the husband is Toxic or heartless he can render her homeless and penniless.

But from the view of being First Lady and accompanying her husband on a good will trip to meet and greet and the new King Solomon, many believe Michelle did not act correctly. They believe that she should have donned a head scarf and should not have worn pants but a long dress instead. This visit was not about Michele, It was about trying to make friends with the new leader. Clearly, there was no winning friends or influencing anyone via Michelle’s actions. In fact many took this as a personal insult or slap in the face.

From my view I believe that one must respect the cultures of others when you are on their territory. I myself have even donned a head scarf when I have lectured in certain countries where the head scarf was expected to be worn by women. Even though I was a Westerner I thought it was more respectful if I wore one and it was very well received and much appreciated. It showed that I respected their culture.

Michelle’s body language can be translated  by many as reported in the  press as to her being defiant and arrogant. There was no question that she was angry and disgusted. There was also no question that her presence and actions were not very diplomatic.

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27 thoughts on “Michelle Obama Body Language Shows She’s Disgusted By Saudis and Lack of Head Scarf Makes A Loud Statement

  1. If she looked disgusted, it’s because the way Saudis treat women is disgusting. It isn’t about respecting a culture (a culture which I might add has been made rich by the transfer of American wealth because of our dependence on oil and which siphons money to terrorists). It’s about being the mother of two girls.

    THANK YOU, Michelle Obama.

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    1. There are a lot of mothers of girls that visit SAudi Arabia and respect their head scarf requirement.Michelle was not going as a tourist and a mother. She was accompanying her husband on a diplomatic mission. She needed to behave like a First Lady and not pull faces. And if she was that disgusted she should not have gone to Saudi Arabia and stayed home. She knew before she went to Saudi Arabia. as does every Western woman, how the Saudis treat women. Making disgusted faces because no one paid enough attention to her and no one shook her hand or looked at her directly is no excuse to not act professionally in the role of First Lady.

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      1. What woman in her right mind, First Lady, president or God, would “respect” child rapists? Yes, you heard it right. They marry girls at ANY age and can do whatever they wish with them. As mothers, women and humans how can one give respect to that? Oh, excuse me, I forgot to mention the academic course “are woman human beings” thought around this country for academic credits. They are the sewage of humanity and Obama, as a father to 2 girls, should be ashamed of visiting there.

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      2. You make an interesting point but child raping has nothing to do with wearing a head scarf. It is simply my view tht when vising a different culture one needs to respect that mode of dress or don’t visit it in the first place as you said.

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    1. She was not going as a tourist but as a First Lady and needed to act diplomatically. If she was there as just the mother of her kids she could do what she wanted (and most likely suffer the consequences) but she was there on a Presidential mission. The Saudi Arabians do not want to behead our people. It is ISIS and other militant groups. She was visiting Saudi dignitaries and needed to act dignified.

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    2. Bad for Michelle as Saudi’s don;t want to behead our citizens. You are thinking about a militant faction- ISIS. When you go on a diplomatic mission and you are First Lady you should show respect. It was her pulling faces that was very disrespectful, besides the headscarf.

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  2. We may not like them, but we need them. She should have taken the diplomatic route to smooth things over, while still being disgusted with them privately, which most of us are.

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  3. the other thing to consider is that, even though it’s true that women are second class citizens over there, part of the reason men don’t acknowledge women is because that is another man’s wife and it’s just an inappropriate thing to do. So in a weird way, it can be a sign of respect (THEIR semi-warped version of respect) to not talk or speak to a woman, who “belongs” to some man (whether her father or husband).

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    1. I’d like to add that devout Muslim men (like Orthodox Jewish men) are forbidden by their faith to shake the hand of any woman who is not a relative. I’m surprised that Michelle Obama would not know that and instead, would take offense at the fact that none of the men shook her hand.

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  4. They do not follow our customs when they come here. We still have to allow them their customs whether we are there or they are here!! Just sayin’

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  5. I think what Dr glass said is right on. I am middle eastern and from the Gulf region and a lot of the middle east don’t agree with how women are treated their. But respect and diplomacy is important in these situations is crucial to changing the world. Alienating and demonizing Arabs is not the answer, it is creating monsters like isis. As a Muslim woman in the West I try to respect other cultures while also practicing my faith. Saudi Arabia has the good and the bad like other countries, but most do agree that woman are treated very poorly there and the suadia women are trying hard to have more civil rights. What is needed desperately is different education for future men and women of ksa. And I agree that first lady Obama should of respected there costumes. Most Arabs respect other customs when they come to the west. If some people feel wearing the scarf in the West is some kind of disrespect then we need to look at the charter of rights and freedom, I don’t think someone wearing the scarf is not following western customs, but I think if someone is wearing the niqab would be because in western society it’s important to Identify the person. I hope from my heart that American and other westerners don’t see the the scarf as a sign of disrespect on the contrary woman are trying to show there modesty in a world full of hyper Sexualized women. Maybe it would lessen the gap if you think of nuns some of them cover there head and most of the West respect that, so I’m saying try to say is see the commonality between the cultures. Honestly this is not the first time the Obama family did not act in th e right way, loom at how Obama was taking a selfie in Nelsons Mandela funeral. Was not appropriate at all

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  6. I am embarrassed by Michelle’s actions. It shows disrespect and arrogance. So typical of her. I am not a fan by any means.

    Dr. Glass, I enjoy reading your explanations and I truly respect them. You are always a joy to read.

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  7. Good for her. And for the record, she joins a number of women who have chosen not to wear headscarves in Saudi Arabia, including First Lady Laura Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And, typically, no one freaked out about it until Michelle Obama does it. We may very well have a female president in the near future, so the Saudis are going to have to get used to treating American women with more respect than they treat Saudi women. Why the heck not start now.

    Here is another much more informed view: http://www.vox.com/2015/1/28/7928167/michelle-obama-saudi-arabia-headscarf

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    1. There are several opposing viewpoints on this blog – some for, some against the FLOTUS wearing the headscarf – and they all have validity. What was totally inexcusable, however, was Michelle Obama making faces during the visit. That’s not going to inspire the Saudis to treat American women with respect.

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  8. Lillian I TOTALLY disagree with you that she “should have shown respect for their culture and worn a head scarf” Lillian, did you seriously just say that? Theirs in not a culture it is a captivity! Do you also advocate for other so-called cultures who abuse and disgrace children as well. Would you follow their customs and traditions as well? NO! This isn’t just about women, it is about the children. Listen to what I am saying…if Michelle were to have worn a head scarf wouldn’t she have been partaking in this culture? The SAUDIS are the ones who are disrespectful to women and children. Michelle has finally wised up and is no longer going to partake in that! Obama should be ashamed of himself for even going over their. Those leaders need to be exiled by the international community as tyrannical regimes. I am getting sick of seeing them all shake hands and smile. The pope makes me the most disgusted of all but that is another story entirely. Back to Michelle….she also needs to look at her own “war on women” that she is so advocating for here in the US. The only difference is this. One is in the name of religion and the other in the name of freedom.

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  9. I have been doing a fair amount of business lately with Saudi Arabians, as a woman who sells software to businesses around the world. For what it’s worth, every man I have interacted with has been extremely polite and professional. I was surprised by this, but after thinking more about it, there aren’t really any homogenous cultures.
    In any event, Michelle Obama is vile for making faces like that. I really cannot stand her.

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    1. She does seem to have trouble controlling her facial expressions in public. Remember the death glare she gave her husband at Nelson Mandela’s funeral when she thought he got a little too chummy with the beautiful blonde Danish prime minister?

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  10. Dr. Glass, it is U.S. diplomatic protocol for First Ladies and other high ranking female government officials to NOT wear a head scarf when visiting Saudi Arabia. Its not about respect. Its a political statement. Protocol isn’t just reserved for the British royal family. Every country establishes their apparel, social and behavioral requirements based on the different diplomatic relationships between nations. Saudi Arabia is a US ally. There is a very close diplomatic relationship there, hence, the laxity in requiring Western women to don a head covering (even western female tourists do NOT have this requirement). Yes, Michelle Obama had to walk behind her husband and wait to be acknowledged by the male Saudis. Yes, she did have to wear loosed fitting clothing that covered more than she might be used to, but a head covering was not required. This was not a visit to Iran nor to Indonesia where protocol is a bit different. Her facial expressions were unfortunate, but to focus on the lack of a hijab or scarf is pointless.bon

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    1. You are right in that her face pulling was unfortunate.That is the focus of the blog. Facial language wise she is the First Lady and needed to not make disgusted faces whether she was disgusted or not as the world watches her. She wore the scarf in Indonesia out of respect and could have done the same in Saudi Arabia as many have mentioned throughout the media. But you are right that this may be secondary to her facial expressions which need more control in public.

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  11. I can understand and agree with the commentary about how she let her distaste of her treatment -and possibly the culture- show. However I don’t necessarily think that the first lady’s lack of a headscarf was a statement either way, it has been pointed out in articles that it is not expected that a woman on even a diplomatic level should cover her hair. This whole headscarf issue is a storm in a teacup. Whether a civilian visitor- non diplomat- woman is obligated to cover her hair depends on which region of Saudi she visits.

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    1. The bottom line is when you are the First Lady, you MUST be diplomatic at all times and not pull faces no matter how you feel about the country you are visiting and their customs. She knew what Saudi Arabia was all about before she went there as most Americans know about how Saudis relate to women and the lack of women’s rights. If it was too disturbing for her, she needed to stay home and not make faces in someone else’s country. In the meantime when she speaks of nutrition and childhood obesity which are her passions here in the US she can pull all the faces she likes to show her displeasure and express her emotions.

      As far as the head scarf goes, I see your point, but it would have made a nice gesture in my view.

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  12. What about all the other First Ladies who have not worn head scarfs, why weren’t they bashed for being ‘disrespectful’ in others eyes? I think that no matter what she does, there will always be an issue. Had she worn a head scarf, then there goes that Obama’s are Muslim debate again.

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    1. Marie- this blog is not about other first ladies and head scarves. You missed the point! It is about Michelle Obama making faces and as a body language expert I can assure you that had a negative effect on public perception. Don’t insult the First Lady by saying no matter what she does there will always be an issue.That is false. She has done a lot of good and had tried her best to make people aware of the consequences of obesity in this country and to try to teach children to eat right. She has tried her best. It would have been a nice touch if she wore a scarf in my view, but if she didn’t want to wear it so be it. But she cannot make faces when the whole world is watching her under any circumstances. And don’t instigate false statements about Michelle Obama being a Muslim as there is nothing to indicate that. She is one of the First Ladies in history who is very inspirational, whom people around the world look up to. So that is why the face pulling did not suit her.

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