Obama’s memoir is full to the brim with emotive recollections from her time as First Lady and her life prior. She reflects on her struggle with infertility, motherhood, feminism, pervasive racism and grappling (beyond measure) with the reality of a Donald Trump presidency.
Below are some of the most powerful moments:
Michelle Obama writes that at the time of her husband’s presidential candidacy she was “harbouring a painful thought: Barack was a black man in America, after all. I didn’t really think he could win.”
In an interview with Good Morning America, Obama says that she found it difficult to overcome ingrained skepticism. How could her country ever elect a black man to the highest office?
“I think I did what a lot of black folks were doing,” she said. “We were afraid to hope, because it’s hard to think that the country which oppressed you could one day be led by you.”
Throughout the following years, she, Barack and their two daughters were subjected to countless racist attacks and innuendos. Perhaps the most damaging incident was inflicted upon them by current President Donald Trump. In 2016, Trump led a racially-charged, vitriolic conspiracy claiming Barack Obama held a false birth certificate.
It was a political stunt that Michelle Obama could “never forgive”.
“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington?” she said. “What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him,” she writes.
On fertility struggles
Perhaps her bravest revelation, Michelle Obama admits that at the age of 34 she and her husband were struggling to conceive. The toll this took on her emotionally and physically was immense.
“We were trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t going well,” she writes. “We had one pregnancy test come back positive, which caused us both to forget every worry and swoon with joy, but a couple of weeks later I had a miscarriage, which left me physically uncomfortable and cratered any optimism we felt.”
During her interview on Good Morning America she added, “I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were because we don’t talk about them. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken.”
The couple went on to seek marriage counselling and also underwent IVF to conceive their two daughters Malia and Sasha.
On Trump’s inauguration:
The former FLOTUS “stopped even trying to smile” during Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017 because she was wracked with dismay. “The vibrant diversity of the two previous administrations was gone,” she writes.
“Someone from Barack’s administration might have said that the optics there were bad, that what the public saw didn’t reflect the President’s reality or ideals, but in this case, maybe it did. Realising it, I made my own optic adjustment. I stopped even trying to smile.”
On supporting Barack through his darkest hour
Following the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre of 2012, in which a gunman murdered 20 students and 6 teachers, “My husband needed me”, Obama wrote.
“This would be the only time in eight years that he’d request my presence in the middle of a workday, the two of us rearranging our schedules to be alone together for a moment of dim comfort. Those images were seared permanently into his psyche. I could see in his eyes how broken they’d left him, what this had done already to his faith.”
On redefining the role of FLOTUS:
Michelle Obama was not like the other First Ladies before her– strong, capable, intelligent women, sidelined during their husband’s presidencies. Instead, she redefined the role of FLOTUS. She actively led policy like the widely successful ‘Let’s Move’ initiative; promoting the importance of children’s health and nutrition.
“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition,” she writes on site.
Michelle Obama had her own vision outside of her husband’s presidency and she sought at all times to use her platform to achieve this. Barack Obama put it perfectly when he said:
“The way in which she blended purpose and policy with fun so that she was able to reach beyond Washington on her health care initiatives, on her military family work was masterful.”
She continues to be a role model to women across the world in all walks of life.