Last month, President Barack Obama sat down for a joint interview with celebrity ballet dancer Misty Copeland for TIME magazine. The conversation, moderated by TIME reporter Maya Rhodan at the White House, centered around “race, gender and success,” and kicked off with Obama pointing out that Rhodan neglected to include great dancing as something he and Copeland have in common.
Classic POTUS, amirite?
As the conversation developed–Rhodan was adamant about it being a conversation, as opposed to a more formal interview–Obama expressing his pride in Copeland’s achievements led to some personal insight on raising two daughters, and “guarding against” the pressure women face on a daily basis to “define themselves in terms of a certain appearance.”
And the fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful. I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more. You see Beyonce 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. But it’s still a challenge. 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. And so it’s, as a parent, that’s a constant learning process that you’re trying to hold the fort. And that’s why somebody like Misty ends up being so important.
Obama went on to discuss the role social media plays in applying the aforementioned pressure, including its role in Black lives Matter and LGBT youth issues alongside Copeland, and you can read the full transcript of the conversation here.