Women Empowerment: Michelle Obama
“Girl from the South Side and former First Lady. Wife, mother, dog lover.” This is how Michelle Obama describes herself on her Twitter handle, and although we love these simple and pure words (and her!), in our opinion she has left out a few very key components of her persona, but then again it is Twitter so she could only use so many words! In addition to Michelle’s succinct introduction to herself, we admire her endlessly for her efforts towards education reform, women empowerment, and of course her elegant, classic, and confidant looks.
Although she is surely most known for her role and work as the former First Lady and wife of the 44th President Barack Obama, Michelle will most certainly have her own legacy, separate from her husband’s. And it will be that she was the first First Lady to show women that it is ok to be everything and that all women deserve equal opportunity and choice, every and any choice.
Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Michelle describes her upbringing as conventional. Dad worked, mom stayed at home raising her and her brother and they ate dinner together each night at the dining table. Every daughter wants to please their father (or most anyway), but Michelle had an extra strong desire to do so given her father’s health struggles with MS. So, his desire for her to stay out of trouble and be a good student greatly impacted her growing up and she was determined to meet and exceed his expectations.
With a B.A. from Princeton University followed by a J.D. from Harvard Law School and her many social and community focused accomplishments since, I think it is safe to say her father, who passed away in 1991, would be more than proud!
Michelle spent her early legal career working at the law firm Sidley Austin, where she met her husband. She subsequently worked as the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and the Vice President for Community and External Affairs of the University of Chicago Medical Center.
In 1992, Barack and Michelle married and as we all know they have two lovely daughters, Malia and Sasha. Michelle campaigned for her husband’s presidential bid throughout 2007 and 2008 and then became the First Lady!
As First Lady, Michelle became a role model for women, a fashion icon, and an advocate for education, poverty awareness, healthy eating and physical activity.
The first initiative Michelle took a lead role on was Let’s Move!, a public health campaign she began in 2010 as a way to make progress in reversing the 21st century trend of childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle for children. The song “Move Your Body” by Beyoncé and Swizz Beatz was released to promote the campaign along with its music video that was filmed in a school cafeteria where Beyoncé was dancing with children.
Michelle’s support for women empowerment took its greatest leap in 2015 when she and President Obama launched the Let Girls Learn program as a way to help give young women across the globe greater access to education. As a woman lucky enough to receive an ivy league education, Michelle knows the power of a quality education and her awareness of the many millions of young girls around the world who are unable to obtain such, and the ripple effect that has on society, led her to champion this program.
What they do – “Recognizing that adolescent girls face multiple challenges in pursuing an education, Let Girls Learn is employing a holistic approach to change the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community and institutional levels; foster an enabling environment for adolescent girls’ education; and engage and equip girls to make life decisions and important contributions to society.”
Remember the song “This is For My Girls” featuring Kelly Clarkson, Chloe x Halle, Missy Elliot, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland and Zendaya? In 2016 Michelle enlisted this top notch ensemble to help her release the song in support of the Let Girls Learn initiative and her quest to empower women!
In May of 2017 rumors abounded the press after a memo from Trump’s administration noted that the Let Girls Learn initiative would be ended, but they were quickly squashed and the program appears to still be running strong so let’s hope it stays that way!
An empowered woman should always look her best, and Michelle always does! She was voted best-dressed by numerous magazines and often praised for her elegant and poised style. Note the use of the word style and not fashion here, fashion is about what outside forces tell you to wear, but style is about the expression of a unique self, and this is what Michelle does so beautifully and effortlessly.
I read somewhere that Michelle hugged more people than any other First Lady which is so fitting, as she really was the most warm, accessible, normal and inspirational First Lady we have ever had (in my opinion any way!)
And yes, as lovely as Michelle is in my eyes, she of course had her haters. Being scrutinized by the public spotlight is never easy, but being the first black First Lady certainly made it even harder for Michelle (yes folks racism still exists, as much as I like to imagine it doesn’t!). But Michelle always faced the insults, jokes, scandals and disrespect with grace, she stayed true to herself and prevailed over them, such admirable qualities!
Since leaving her role as First Lady, Michelle has continued on her plight for women empowerment with actions such as The United State of Women Summit held in Washington, DC on June 14th, 2017. In collaboration with celebrities and bosses like Laverne Cox, Cecile Richards, Oprah, Indra Nooyi and Kerry Washington, the summit was aimed at helping women celebrate their achievements and empowering them to push for more.
What else is next for this powerhouse woman?! I am guessing she will undoubtedly continue to empower other women and support quality education and social issues. I hear there is a memoir in the works – can’t wait to read that! And as for particulars on what else is next for our favorite former First Lady – the future is yet to be told, but whatever it entails I am sure it will be fabulous!
Words of Wisdom from Michelle Obama:
“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish, whether that’s in politics or other fields.”
“Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected.”
“You don’t want to be with a boy who’s too stupid to appreciate a smart young woman.”
“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back.”
“Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”
“As women, we must stand up for each other.”
And we just must note her comment in reaction to Trump! “Now is the time for all of us to stand up and say enough is enough. This has got to stop right now.”
Thank you, Michelle Obama, for all that you do for women empowerment!
With love, KOKET
For more inspiring women visit our Women Empowerment page!