Reporters traveling with the president on his Hawaii vacation have been sternly instructed not to sneak in any shirtless photos of Obama while he goes snorkeling. Our president, in addition to fielding security concerns, has to fight his own objectification!
According to the Times' pool reporter in Hawaii,
When the president visited the Gulf Coast of Florida earlier this year, his aides kept news photographers far away from him while he was on the beach. Instead, the White House photographer captured him swimming with his daughter Sasha – and released a picture showing the president in the water, but only from the neck up.
"I'm not going to let you guys take a picture of me with my shirt off,'' the president told reporters then.
It's clear that the White House is still traumatized by the Us Weeklyficiation of the president in 2008, which led to the above magazine cover. At the time that photo was taken, Frank Griffin of Bauer Griffin, the agency that grabbed the shot, said the president "wasn't hiding. He was completely out in the open. We didn't by any stretch of the imagination expect to get the images we got... We use the expression, 'He gave it up.' "
Of course, back then, Griffin also said that the president was "now the world's biggest celebrity, just after Angelina and Brad. I guess they're neck and neck right now." Is that still true after two years of rough sailing, not to mention constant exposure? We asked Griffin and a few other paps and will let you know what they say.
For now, we can ponder why it is that a shirtless photo of our president would be so damning when it didn't seem to hurt some other major world leaders.
In 2007, photos of a shirtless Sarkozy vacationing in New Hampshire were published in Paris Match, leading to charges that the French magazine had photoshopped out his love handles.
And there is no greater exemplar of the barechested world leader than Vladimir Putin, whose photos' official release seemed designed to trumpet his virility. A tabloid magazine published a huge version of the shot with the headline, "Be Like Putin" complete with exercise tips.
No Shirtless Photos Of Obama This Trip [NYT/Caucus]
Obama: No Shirtless Pics [The Hill]
Related: Putin Gone Wild [AP]
Nicolas Sarkozy Gets on the Shirtless President Vanity Train [Towleroad]