Michelle Obama covers the December issue of Elle to promote her memoir, Becoming. I’m sure we’re going to be inundated with details from the book for weeks, but so far, I haven’t really found any of the excerpts or details particularly scandalous. I mean, is it scandalous that Trump disgusts her? No. Is it controversial that she hated being a lawyer? Nah. Anyway, Oprah conducted this Elle interview, which just drives the point home: Michelle’s memoir is absolutely Oprah-approved. If Oprah still had her talk show, Michelle’s book would be front and center and there would be multiple on-camera interviews. The whole piece was very interesting – you can read it here. Some highlights:
How & why she keeps it real: “I think it starts because I like me. I like my story and all the bumps and bruises. That’s what makes me uniquely me. So I’ve always been open with my staff, with young people, with my friends. And the other thing, Oprah: I know that whether we like it or not, Barack and I are role models. I hate when people who are in the public eye—and even seek the public eye—want to step back and say, “Well, I’m not a role model. I don’t want that responsibility.” Too late. You are. Young people are looking at you. And I don’t want young people to look at me here and now and think, Well, she never had it rough. She never had challenges, she never had fears.
She hated being a lawyer: “Oh God, yeah. Sorry, lawyers…It took a lot to be able to say that out loud to myself. In the book, I take you on the journey of who that little striving star-getter became, which is what a lot of hard-driving kids become: a box checker. Get good grades: check. Apply to the best schools, get into Princeton: check. Get there, what’s your major? Uh, something that’s going to get me good grades so I can get into law school, I guess? Check. Get through law school: check. I wasn’t a swerver. I wasn’t somebody that was going to take risks. I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be. It took losses in my life that made me think, Have you ever stopped to think about who you wanted to be? I had not. I was sitting on the 47th floor of an office building, going over cases and writing memos.
When Barack Obama wasn’t there, day-to-day, in the early days of their marriage: “I was mad. When you get married and have kids, your whole plan, once again, gets upended. Especially if you get married to somebody who has a career that swallows up everything, which is what politics is. Barack Obama taught me how to swerve. But his swerving sort of—you know, I’m flailing in the wind. And now I’ve got two kids, and I’m trying to hold everything down while he’s traveling back and forth from Washington or Springfield…. He’s a plate spinner—plates on sticks, and it’s not exciting unless one’s about to fall. So there was work we had to do as a couple. Counseling we had to do to work through this stuff.
Feeling vulnerable when Barack was away: “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. He didn’t understand distance in the same way. You know, 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.
There’s a really sweet and touching section where she talks about her first day, post-White House, on her own in their new Washington home. She talked about how she had forgotten how to do some things for herself, so she decided to make herself some cheese toast and sit outside with the dogs. Sunny and Bo apparently got a little bit freaked out when they heard neighbor dogs, because they too had been in the White House bubble for years. Anyway, I do appreciate how real Michelle is about how she and Barack aren’t all cutesy and how everything wasn’t always perfect. She had to work on herself to figure out what she wanted, and that took professional help from a counselor. Nobody’s perfect, not even Barack and Michelle!! (although let’s be real, they’re as close to perfect as we’ll ever get.)
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@MichelleObama knows you think she and #BarackObama are #RelationshipGoals, but she insists, “marriage is hard.” During a candid conversation with @oprah for ELLE’s December issue, Michelle reveals she and Barack underwent marriage counseling. “You go because you think the counselor is going to help you make your case against the other person. 'Would you tell him about himself?!' And lo and behold, counseling wasn’t that at all. It was about me exploring my sense of happiness." Link in bio to read more from her honest interview. ELLE December 2018 credits: Editor-in-chief: @ninagarcia Photographer: @millermobley Stylist: @meredithkoop Hair: @yenedamtew Makeup: @carlraymua Wearing: @cushnie Chief photography director: @alixbcampbell
Photos courtesy of Elle Magazine.