Mrs. Obama’s Elbows Upstage Her Arms…

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Mrs. Obama’s Elbows Upstage Her Arms…


Mrs. Obama’s arms get a lot of well-deserved attention: they are toned, yet feminine – what many women aspire to. However, Mrs. Obama’s famous arms were recently upstaged by her elbows when she rested them on the table at a luncheon. Oh the finger wagging and tongue clucking! You would have thought Mrs. Obama had clipped her toenails in public. Faux-rage gripped the internet’s manners police – our beloved First Lady had broken a cardinal rule of etiquette that we all learned at mother’s knee: no elbows on the table – ever!


But guess what? The no elbows on the table rule is a myth. Traditional etiquette allows a diner to rest her elbows on the table if she is between courses or if she is finished eating. However, most moms, mine included, missed the fine print on this rule and religiously (and in the case of my mother, aggressively) enforced the no elbows on the table rule during mealtime.

So what should you do? Elbows on or off the table?

My advice: Based on the internet’s near implosion when Mrs. Obama rested her elbows on the table, I would go with mom’s rule and keep your elbows off the table because it is what 99% of Americans accept as proper behavior. Think about it: if one of the most popular First Lady’s in recent history can’t pull off resting her elbows on the table, what chance to do you think you have?

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Stayce Wagner is the CEO and Founder of Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC, located in Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia. Stayce specializes in showing busy professionals how to successfully navigate corporate settings with the use of modern and relevant business etiquette. For more information, email Stayce at

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