Michelle Obama is an inspiration to women, girls and all human beings, everywhere.
We may know her as a former First Lady of the United States, but she is so much more than that title: an accomplished lawyer, a bestselling author, a committed community advocate and activist, a devoted wife and mother and a champion for every cause she firmly believes in.
She’s taken a lot of flack over the years, and through it all has shown her brilliance, resilience and drive, time and again. We want to be her best friend, her sister, her daughter – but we also just count ourselves lucky to have her as a role model. Here are some of our favourite Michelle Obama moments over the years.
When she wore THOSE boots
Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming, was published in 2018, and, unsurprisingly, it’s been a smash hit, with Obama touring sellout venues in the US, Europe and Canada. Not only has it been thrilling for her legions of fans to get to hear her speak – up close and personal – but seeing Michelle Obama’s bold, fashion-forward sartorial choices has been a real treat. From a striped silk pyjama suit by Roksanda to a crystal-studded pantsuit from Stine Goya, it’s been one awesome outfit after another. Of course, we have to give a shout-out to our favourite look: Michelle Obama’s gold thigh-high Balenciaga knife boots, teamed with Demna Gvasalia’s yellow dress, as she joined Sarah Jessica Parker onstage.
She told Parker how her former style was informed by her position as First Lady, where she’d strategically wear certain US designers to get their names out to a broad audience. “But now, I’m free to do whatever. There is no message. The boots are telling you no message. They were just really cute. I was like, Those some nice boots!” Obama told the crowd.
When she was named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People 2019 and Queen Bey wrote this…
Michelle Obama touches lives, and we think Beyoncé perfectly captures her elegance and grace and spirit – and the love we all feel for her – in a short essay for TIME magazine, when Obama was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of the year.
“Loving Michelle Obama wasn’t much of a choice. It was something that came naturally, because of how she carried herself. Because she resembled us and was moving in spaces where, as black Americans, we weren’t exactly meant to be, she seemed so powerful…
“The way she looked, walked and spoke, in that warm but authoritative tone, we saw our mothers and sisters. She was strong and ambitious and spoke her mind without sacrificing honesty or empathy. That takes a lot of courage and discipline.”
When she said this in her MAKERS interview
Michelle Obama spoke to MAKERS about her childhood in Chicago, achieving those “traditional markers of success” before seeking out roles that let her help her community, the “profoundly moving” experience of the inauguration of her husband and the “gift” that being First Lady of the United States affords. It’s worth a listen.
When she spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016
Michelle Obama wasn’t one of the presidential candidates up for the top job in 2016, but she still managed to steal the show when she declared her motto: “When they go low, we go high.” We’re still using that advice as a way of teaching our kids how to deal with negativity and bullies.
When she wrote Becoming
Becoming is Michelle Obama’s biography, and it’s sold nearly 10 million copies since its release in November 2018 – in fact, it’s doing so well that it just might become the best-selling memoir in history. It’s packed with anecdotes about life in the White House, as well as really amazing advice, like how we’re all still in the process of evolving – we’re works in progress, we’re becoming. One of the reasons the book is so appealing is that it reads like an intimate conversation with a close girlfriend, who just happens to be this incredibly accomplished global celebrity.
“Now that I’m an adult, I realise that kids know at a very young age when they’re being devalued, when adults aren’t invested enough to help them learn. Their anger over it can manifest itself as unruliness. It’s hardly their fault. They aren’t ‘bad kids.’ They’re just trying to survive bad circumstances,” Obama writes, in one of many memorable quotes, in the book.
When she shows us her funny side
She can rap, she can sing, she can boogie – and she can still preach about the importance of education for girls while doing so. Check out her Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.
When she says her most important job is motherhood
Michelle Obama has often talked about being “mom-in-chief” – she has always been focused on protecting her daughters, Malia and Sasha, as their lives transformed from being in the public eye from such a young age.
“My most important title is ‘mom-in-chief.’ My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the centre of my world,” she writes in Becoming. As anyone who follows her on Twitter can tell you, she’s still known as “hugger-in-chief.”
When we see how much she and Barack Obama love and respect each other
Political scandal is often a feature of high-profile political relationships, but Michelle and Barack Obama’s love story seems refreshingly scandal-free. They’re partners, they’re best friends and they’ve grown up together (and truly gone through it all).
“I feel vulnerable all the time. And, I had to learn how to express that to my husband, to tap into those parts of me that missed him – and the sadness that came from that – so that he could understand,” Obama revealed to Oprah Winfrey in Good Housekeeping.
“He didn’t understand distance in the same way. He grew up without his mother in his life for most of his years, and he knew his mother loved him dearly, right? I always thought love was up close. Love is the dinner table, love is consistency – it is presence. So, I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently. It was an important part of my journey of becoming. Understanding how to become us.”
When she tackles issues that are important to all of us
Michelle Obama has used her global platform as a force for good, trying to empower the next generation through initiatives like Let Girls Learn, which helps to ensure an education for girls around the world, and Let’s Move, which tackles childhood obesity. Obama practiced what she preached to get kids eating more healthfully and exercising more, by planting a White House vegetable garden as one of her earliest projects as First Lady.