On Feb. 12, 2018, the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama were revealed at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

It truly was a historic moment. The artists behind both of the Obamas' portraits are black. There hasn’t been a black artist previously been commissioned for a presidential portrait for the National Portrait Gallery.


Baltimore-based Amy Sherald — a rising star in the art world, whose work challenges stereotypes about black Americans and black identity — painted the former first lady.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

After having lived in the White House for eight years, it's easy to assume the Obamas are used to these types of history-making days. But as a touching post on Michelle Obama's Instagram suggested, the moment was still a bit surreal for the first black woman to call the White House home.

"As a young girl, even in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this moment," Michelle Obama began her heartfelt post.

She continued in the caption:

"Nobody in my family has ever had a portrait — there are no portraits of the Robinsons or the Shields from the South Side of Chicago. This is all a little bit overwhelming, especially when I think about all of the young people who will visit the National Portrait Gallery and see this, including so many young girls and young girls of color who don’t often see their images displayed in beautiful and iconic ways."

"Beautiful and iconic" is right. Handpicked by the Obamas, Sherald and Wiley's paintings reflected the aesthetics of their previous works, bucking the more conventional surroundings and styles seen in other presidential portraits at the Smithsonian.

The portraits of George and Laura Bush. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The portraits of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Other first ladies' portraits were powerful and moving in their own rights, to be sure. "For me, having the honor of having a portrait in the Smithsonian is just beyond words," Hillary Clinton had explained during her own portrait's reveal. Laura Bush said she was “especially happy to invite an artist from [her] mother’s childhood home of El Paso, Texas, to paint [her portrait],” speaking about its creator, Aleksander Titovets.

But the Obamas truly were unlike any other first family in U.S. history. And their portraits don't shy away from that reality — they embrace it beautifully.

"I am so proud to help make that kind of history," Michelle Obama concluded in her touching post before expressing gratitude for Sherald. "Thank you, Amy — it was a joy to work with you and get to know you."

Learn more about presidential portraits at the National Portrait Gallery.

For the first time in its 56-year history, Sports Illustrated will feature a transgender model on its glossy cover. 23-year-old Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio will appear in the July issue, which hits stands early next week. Sampaio wrote on Instagram that she was "excited and honored" to be part of such an iconic issue, adding: "The team at SI has created yet another groundbreaking issue by bringing together a diverse set of multitalented, beautiful women in a creative and dignified way."

A native of Fortaleza, a city in northeastern Brazil, Sampaio has been making history in the fashion world in recent years. She was already the first trans model to make the 2017 cover of Vogue Paris. Scouted while she was a young teen, she quickly made her way onto key runways in her home country. She managed to make an impression in a short time— launching her career at 18 years old—as L'Oréal Paris's first trans model. She hit another milestone last year, when she was the face of Victoria's Secret campaign, breaking barriers as the first trans woman working with the brand.

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