For those who like to argue that the NYT's Styles section always arrives late to the trend -- such as yesterday's page-one piece on the fitness impact of Michelle Obama's muscled arms -- we offer this surprising little blast from the past.
Yes, it's true: the Styles section was once ahead of the curve. "The Arm Fetish," by Molly O'Neill, was the cover story of the NYT's very first Sunday Styles section ever, on May 3, 1992. O'Neill used Linda Hamilton's notably buff arms in "Terminator 2" as one of its main reference points.
At the time, Michelle Obama was 28.
NYT trivia buffs may recall the Sunday Styles section as the brainchild of Adam Moss, now the celebrated editor-in-chief of New York Magazine, who had been brought into the paper by then-executive editor Joseph Lelyveld to improve its lifestyle coverage. The section's first editor was Penelope Green, who's now a reporter for the NYT's Home section. The Moss-Green Styles section often gave over the entire front page to a single feature; it focused less on the pseudo-trend stories of its current incarnation, and more on well-written features that explored human interest and behavior.
This one earned itself the distinction of being promptly parodied by The Village Voice's Michael Musto, who switched the focus from the arm to the penis.