Michelle Obama is Vogue’s December cover star and it’s absolutely perfect
For at least two years now, I’ve lamented about how I’ll miss Michelle Obama much more than president Obama. She has that thing you just can’t teach. Dare I say black girl magic? The First Lady graces the December issue of Vogue in what appears to be an ivory ankle-length dress. It’s a sight to behold, but it’s not even the best of the spread photographed by the famed Annie Leibovitz. The emerald off-the-shoulder dress with her sensual gaze is divine. And still, the most compelling part of it all is the story — Mrs. Obama’s words.
FLOTUS’s intelligence, wit, relatability, and genuineness leap from the page in the cover story written by Jonathan Van Meter. We already knew she was all these things, and perhaps it’s the sadness setting in that in two months she will no longer live at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., which means we’ll no longer be blessed with her presence as a public figure. Whatever the reason, I’m now filled with half sorrow, half hope that maybe by some great fluke she can stay.
Since that’s impossible, allow me to share the gems. They include but are not limited to her talking about her family playing the dozens, telling a seemingly obnoxious YouTube star that she’s loud, and the importance of having a foot on reality when you have access to the kind of power the White House brings.
On defining her own role as First Lady:
“I could have spent eight years doing anything, and at some level, it would have been fine. 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.”
On her sense of humor:
“You know, it’s the silliness in me. It has always been there. I love to make people laugh. It comes from my family. My family is funny. People sit around and play the dozens. My father—he was a storyteller. If you met any of my uncles, my cousins, everybody’s a ham and can talk for hours, everybody’s got a little sarcasm, they’ve got a little edge.”
How she feels now that the end is near:
“You know, there are little … moments. Even today I was looking out at this view here … Looking out on the South Lawn and the Washington Monument and it had just rained and the grass was really green and everything popped a little bit more. It’s soooo beautiful. And for that moment I thought, I’m going to miss waking up to this, having access to this anytime I want.”
Why she thinks it’s time to go:
“But on the flip side … it’s time. I think our democracy has it exactly right: two terms, eight years. It’s enough. Because it’s important to have one foot in reality when you have access to this kind of power.
On the White House being isolating:
“The nature of living in the White House is isolating. And I think Barack and I—because we’re kind of stubborn—we’ve maintained some normalcy, mostly because of the age of our kids. I go out to dinner with my girlfriends; I go to Sasha’s games; Barack has coached a little basketball with Sasha’s team. But at the same time, when you can’t walk into CVS?”
On a high school counselor telling her she wasn’t Princeton material:
“[They said Princeton] was reaching too high. That the schools I was applying to were too much for me. And then I got there and I looked around and thought: I’m just as smart as these people! What were they thinkin’?”
More sense of humor:
Van Meter observes, “I made such a visceral connection to the things she told the students at Howard that I say to her one day at the White House, ‘Turns out we have a lot in common,’ he says to the first lady. She stares at me for a second, then gets that look on her face. ‘You’re a black girl from the South Side of Chicago?'”
Just read it:
Van Meter writes, “Just before we leave Howard, the First Lady does an interview with Lilly Singh, a 28-year-old YouTube star with nearly ten million subscribers, whose brand is all about girl power—or, as it were, Girl Love. Mrs. Obama initially seems on guard: subdued, less expansive than usual. ‘Be, like, funky!’ Singh says to her before they start. ‘I’ll do a little bit of an intro, be all excited, you know, ‘Wassup?!” As the cameras are ready to roll, Singh leans into her guest and yells, ‘Chillin’ with FLOTUS! No big deal!’ And then this: ‘FLOTUS is like, ‘Girl, you trippin’!” Mrs. Obama gamely soldiers on through the segment, which ends with Singh holding up pictures of people the First Lady knows and asking her to ‘compliment’ them. ‘Whatever you like,’ she says. ‘I just want to know what lives in your heart.’ One of the photos is of Jill Biden, and Mrs. Obama rattles off a list: ‘Dear friend, partner, blue-star mom, kind, curious, smart, professional.’ There are more photos, more compliments, and then Singh holds up a picture of herself. The First Lady proceeds with caution. ‘Beautiful. Smart. Entrepreneurial. Funny,’ says Mrs. Obama. ‘Uhhhh. . . .’ She pauses for a moment and then puts a little something extra on the next compliment. ‘Loud.'”