As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama forged a path as the nation’s mother-in-chief – and became a style icon in the process. Now, freed from White House protocol, she’s loosening up, but still dispensing immaculate advice. In a rare interview, she talks motherhood and maturity with Vogue’s guest editor HRH The Duchess of Sussex.
The September 2019 issue, entitled “Forces for Change”, highlights trailblazing female changemakers – from activists to artists, prime ministers to climate change campaigners – who are breaking barriers and setting the agenda across the globe.
The Duchess of Sussex: You sent me the kindest message on Mother’s Day this year. What has motherhood taught you?
Michelle Obama: Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried – especially at first. As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters. In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different. One speaks freely and often, one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths.
If you were sitting down with your 15-year-old self, what do you think she would tell you, seeing who you have become today?
I love this question. I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book – straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself. So I imagine that she’d be proud of how far I’ve come – but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either. I feel like she’d give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them. If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.
[Photo Credit: by Peter Lindbergh/British Vogue Magazine]