back to top

This Photo Of A Little Girl Staring At Michelle Obama's Portrait Will Give You Chills

"She had this wonder that was silent and yet seemed to be saying something very big at the same time."

Originally posted on
Updated on

"I’m also thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who, in years ahead, will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution," said Michelle Obama in her speech.

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

"I know the kind of impact that will have on their lives because I was one of those girls and, when I think about those future generations and generations past, I think, again, wow. Wow, what an incredible journey we are on together in this country. We have come so far," she said.

Well, check this out. Here's a photo taken at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday of a young girl marveling at the former first lady.

facebook.com
Advertisement

The picture was taken by Ben Hines, a 37-year-old North Carolina resident who was visiting DC to see his mom, Donna.

Supplied.

Ben told BuzzFeed News the little girl and her family were standing in front of them in line to view the portrait.

He said the unidentified girl was excited and full of energy. As her mom tried to get her to turn around to face her for a picture, he said the girl would not cooperate and just wanted to stare at the painting.

"It was so touching and uplifting for me to see this beautiful child looking at a beautiful portrait of a powerful woman," Ben told BuzzFeed News. "I was so delighted to have been in the right place at the right time."

Ben Hines

"I think we were all just smiling, and her joy and her awe was infectious," he said.

Donna said time seemed to stop as everyone around the little girl watched the moment.

"It's hard to describe in words," Donna said. "She had such wonder on her face and her entire body just stopped as she looked at her, and she had this wonder that was silent and yet seemed to be saying something very big at the same time."

Ben's image has been shared thousands of times on Facebook alone, but has also been cross-posted by other people to Instagram and Twitter.

Advertisement

Jessica confirmed the Hines' version of events: "I was trying to get her to turn around so I could take a picture, but she wouldn't cooperate. She just wanted to stare at it. She was fascinated."

Jessica Curry

"As a little person looking at a portrait that large, I can imagine it's fascinating," she said. "She had a little moment."

Jessica said Parker knows that Michelle Obama is a former first lady who used to live in the White House.

"I didn't realize it would be so moving to so many people," she said of the incredible response to the images.

"In the world we live in today, I'm just trying to raise a little girl who has opportunities to see women who look like her doing great things," Jessica said.

The beautiful images had people feeling very emotional.

Advertisement

@YesMeredithFinn Talk about a picture worth a thousand words ... wow

They had others reflecting on the importance of representation.

@YesMeredithFinn @pfpicardi Representation matters

@YesMeredithFinn @kokogiak This picture is so important. It's one thing to be told you're capable of great things. It's another to view evidence that you are.

Sherald, the painter who created the portrait, also shared Jessica's photo of Parker on Instagram, with the hashtag #representationmatters.

Instagram: @asherald
Advertisement

Sherald wrote:

Feeling all the feels. 😭 When I look at this picture I think back to my first field trip in elementary school to a museum. I had only seen paintings in encyclopedias up to that point in my life. There was a show up of work by painter @thebobartlett whose work still inspires me to this day. There was a painting of a black man standing in front of a house. I don't remember a lot about my childhood, but I do have a few emotional memories etched into my mind forever and seeing that painting of a man that looked like he could be my father stopped me dead in my tracks. This was my first time seeing real paintings that weren't in a book and also weren't painted in another century. I didn't realize that none of them had me in them until I saw that painting of Bo's. I knew I wanted to be an artist already, but seeing that painting made me realize that I could. What dreams may come? #representationmatters

Ben told BuzzFeed News that, like some people, he was initially unsure whether Sherald's portrait "captured the beauty of the first lady that I had seen and come to admire."

But he said that seeing the painting in person was a revelation.

"There's a palpable sense with both of the Obama portraits of excitement and reverence among the people standing to view them, and I think that's infectious," he said. "The little girl reflected that.

"The picture I posted shows awe and wonder, but there's also just real joy among those viewing it."

Donna said it was "a gift" to experience the moment.

"To be able to see with my son that little girl look at the first African-American first lady — there really just aren't words for that."

Do you know the security guard in the photo? Email david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

UPDATE

David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact David Mack at david.mack@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.