Michelle Obama said it was "absolutely not surprising" that herat the Academy Awards ceremony sparked a national conversation about whether it was appropriate, after some conservative critics accused her of selfishly crashing the event in an attempt to upstage it.
She attributed the chatter to a culture shift that has spawned legions of bloggers, tweeters, and others who talk about anything and everything all the time.
"Shoot, my bangs set off a. My shoes can set off a national conversation. That's just sort of where we are. We've got a lot of talking going on," the first lady said Thursday before an appearance in her hometown of Chicago. "It's like everybody's kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else so there's a national conversation about anything."
Mrs. Obama was beamed live from the White House into Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles to unseal the envelope and announce that the night's final Best Picture award would go to "Argo." And this was not the first time that a first lady has appeared on the Oscars -- in 2002, Laura Bush appeared at the ceremony via videotape.
Americans have long been fascinated by their first ladies, scrutinizing everything from their clothes and hair to the issues they support, and how they raise their children. Mrs. Obama acknowledged that she and President Barack Obama have added appeal and are perhaps subject to extra scrutiny because they are the first black family in the White House and are also a younger couple (she turned 49 last month; he's 51) with young children (daughters Sasha, 11, and Malia, 14).
Though she doesn't give a second thought to critical comments about what she does in her very public role. Her strategy, she said, is to do things that further her larger goals, and Oscar night aligned with her support for the arts. She recently invited the director and cast members from the Oscar-nominated film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" to the White House to participate in a question-and-answer session with students from Washington and New Orleans who had seen the film at the executive mansion.
"I just don't think about that stuff," said Mrs. Obama when asked for her reaction to the criticism during an interview with a small group of reporters who were invited to accompany her on a three-city tour marking the third anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity.
Though she did admit that she was astounded by the buzz surrounding her recent banged haircut, which she unveiled on her birthday, just before inauguration weekend.
When asked if she was surprised that the bangs made the news, Mrs. Obama said: "I was, I have to say. I'm like, 'it's a haircut."'