Fact Check: Picture Of Michelle Obama Is NOT Original -- It Has Been Photoshopped

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Picture Of Michelle Obama Is NOT Original -- It Has Been Photoshopped Altered Image

Does this photo show what Michelle Obama looked like in April 2017? No, that's not true: This photo has a fake five o'clock shadow added. Michelle Obama has been targeted by baseless claims that she is not a woman before, and this altered image is part of that trope.

The original photo of Michelle Obama went viral on April 2, 2017. In 2018 Twitter account @robcormier26 tweeted an altered image at least four times. The image was altered to add a five o'clock shadow to Michelle Obama's jawline. More recently a post with a grainy version of the altered photo was published on Facebook on October 19, 2021. Additional meme text was added to the picture that said:


This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:


(Image source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Oct 21 21:48:33 2021 UTC)

A candid photo of Michelle Obama, showing her wearing a headband with her naturally textured hair in a loose ponytail, went viral when it was posted on Twitter on April 2, 2017. Several other publications like dailymail.co.uk, huffingtonpost.fr and okayafrica.com wrote about the photo and the positive response so many people had to her natural hair compared to the straightened styles she was usually seen wearing. The exact date and location of the photo was never identified in the articles; it was only suggested that she was on vacation. A tweet by @AJ+ showed a collection of people's happy reactions.

A search for the image on TinEye, sorted by most changed, shows that by 2018 someone had altered the photo to add a fake five o'clock shadow on Michelle Obama's face. The TinEye webcrawler identified that a now-suspended Twitter account @robcormier26 posted the altered image at least four times on Twitter in 2018.


(Image source: Lead Stories comparison image with TinEye, Facebook and Twitter screenshots taken on Thu Oct 21 21:58:45 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories has debunked other altered photos of Michelle Obama in the past, including one in a blue dress with a faked penis bulge and one image of the Obamas as a young couple.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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