Every time a new family moves into the White House, there’s a question of not only how the new president will perform, but also what the new First Lady will be doing. It’s certainly a question Melania Trump has been asked (so far, she’s said she wants to focus on cyberbullying), and Michelle Obama recently told Vogue that it was the most common question she’s been asked in the past eight years.
As the Obamas’ time as the First Family comes to a close, Obama reflects on the type of First Lady she has been, and her answer proves we have had a woman leader in the White House after all. “I could have spent eight years doing anything, and at some level, it would have been fine,” she says. “I could have focused on flowers. I could have focused on decor. I could have focused on entertainment. Because any First Lady, rightfully, gets to define her role. There’s no legislative authority; you’re not elected. And that’s a wonderful gift of freedom.”
But of course she didn’t focus on flowers or decor. Her steadfast focus the past eight years has been health and wellness (as a SoulCycle-loving wellness warrior whose organic White House garden will live on) and women—young women in particular.
The magazine points out that shortly into President Obama’s term, she launched a mentoring program for disadvantaged girls and has been meeting with high schoolers once a month for the last seven years. And while practically no young woman would turn down an invite to hang out with Obama at the White House, she’s also been going to them, giving countless speeches at schools, universities, and media outlets she knows women are tuning into, like Lilly Singh’s YouTube show.
Oh and by the way, it’s not just young women in the US—she has been championing girls around the world and urging countries to prioritize their education, too.
Obama has shown she not only knows where to connect with young women, but how to speak their language. And while this lady definitely deserves a break, chances are, she’ll still be hugging, high-fiving, and inspiring as many young women as she can.
In need of some post-election guidance? Gabrielle Bernstein has a message that will warm your soul—and we got some advice on how to be angry without veering into hatefulness.