In a cultural moment defined by sexual misconduct allegations and a non-stop feed of political turmoil, the days of Barack and Michelle Obama's leadership from the White House feel increasingly far away. But, for a brief moment today, the former first lady offered a beacon of light and a momentary reprieve from it all when she shared a joyful video of her recent meeting with Parker Curry, the two-year-old girl who went viral after her mom posted a photo of Curry admiring Obama's National Portrait Gallery painting by Amy Sherald.
"Parker, I'm so glad I had the chance to meet you today (and for the dance party)! Keep on dreaming big for yourself...and maybe one day I'll proudly look up at a portrait of you!," Obama wrote on Twitter and Instagram, where she shared a photo and video from their meeting. In the latter, Obama and Parker both showed off their best dance moves to Taylor Swift's 2014 single "Shake It Off." Her mom moves truly put her husband's dad moves to shame.
Obama and Curry's meeting comes four days after the little girl's mother Jessica shared the beloved photo of Curry looking at Sherald's painting in awe, which Obama commented on with three heart-eye emoji faces. "Parker was in front on the portrait, and I really wanted her to turn around so I could get a picture with her, and she genuinely, honestly would not turn around," Curry's mom told CNN of the moment it was taken. "She was uncooperative with me because she was just so focused on the portrait and studying it, and she was just so fascinated."
When her portrait was first revealed, Obama noted the unprecedented nature of it, saying, "[Girls and girls of color] will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the walls of this great American institution. [... ] And I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls."
As for the artist, Sherald told W, similarly, that she aimed to capture the magic of Obama's place in history. “Something big has happened in history, something happened that wasn’t supposed to happen and I think they should be represented in that way,” she said. “She’s so different from any other first lady we have ever had and she needed to be represented differently than any other of the first ladies.”