MIDWAY:First Lady’s right to bare

With the absence of anything significantly consequential to criticise the Obamas for those

desperate to find fault in the first couple have resorted to griping about what the

pair wear around the White House.

Last week, one of former president George Bush’s aides was carping that the new president’s penchant for shirtsleeves was overly inappropriate. “There should be a dress code of

respect,” said Andy Card, Bush’s former chief of staff. Now, the snipers have turned their attention towards the first lady Michelle Obama.

Apparently, she is always exposing her arms — the deviant. After she posed for her first official White House photo in a sleeveless dress, the fashion pack dug their nails in, dismissing the look as way too informal and well out of season.

A congressional aide then suggested that the first lady’s dedication to baring her arms in public was probably costing the White House a packet in heating bills.

As someone whose arms are more often out than in, can I say here: some of us just overheat easily. I am typing this in a sleeveless polkadot top. I know it’s not summer — I just find this office too hot, OK?

The only days I deliberately though reluctantly don sleeves are when I know I am going to court as a reporter.

For some reason known best to them, the sight of a bare arm offends court judges, and court clerks have been known to demand female reporters put their cardigans back on.

But what’s the problem with showing a bit of arm? Last time I checked, neither Michelle Obama nor I lived in an orthodox Islamic state where seeing more than a woman’s irises is believed to send men on the road to ruin. And arms are not sexualised in the way that legs or breasts or bottoms are.

The way I see it, they’re just two useful appendages sticking out from my shoulders, and having them out allows me to do even more stuff more easily.

That said, the gesture I wish to extend to all the arm fascists out there could be expressed even if I had my jumper on — involving, as it does, only my index finger and my middle finger or just my middle finger depending where they are in the world.