WORDS: JODIE DUDDY
FEATURE IMAGE: MICHELLE OBAMA VIA INSTAGRAM
Michelle Obama mania has taken over, and for good reason.
Michelle Obama mania is a term I am coining to describe the infatuation the world has with the former First Lady following the success of her memoir ‘Becoming’. In the UK, 64,732 copies were sold in the first five days and it was the best-selling book in the US in 2018. Michelle’s face is everywhere but her message rings as loud and as clear as ever; women’s stories are powerful, and conversations bring women together, their influence cannot be understated.
Michelle’s refreshing candour and charisma has been the highlight of talk shows and women’s groups over the past year, as though leaving the White House has made her revive her role as Michelle Obama rather than being defined by her husband’s success. Her book insists that politics was never intended to be more than a chapter in her life, and her agreement to Barack’s campaign was decided by her values as a citizen and not a wife. Nevertheless Michelle was a pivotal figure in the Obama campaign that made her Husband the first Black President of The United States. Discussed in the memoir is the former first Lady’s feeling that others in the White House setting underestimated and doubted her, which led to her own self doubt about her decision making and intelligence. Despite this Michelle was able to overcome these habits of self scrutiny, a feeling so many people can relate to and struggle to voice.
Michelle speaks candidly about her marriage in ‘Becoming,’ about working through the challenges she and Barack have faced together. She opens up about attending marriage counselling which alleviated some of the problems they struggled to resolve. Her readiness to discuss these issues in the Memoir comes from a desire to educate young people and dispel any assumptions that marriage is an easy thing to enter into, or that her and Barack haven’t worked on issues. The taboo that prevents people talking about marriage counselling only serves to alienate those suffering. She goes on to speak about their issues with infertility, and how her own infertility made her question herself as a woman. Because so few people are prepared to discuss their struggle to conceive it made her feel ‘broken’ and alone. It is through hearing these stories that women feel less alone in the struggles that are universally faced by all women. Michelle’s willingness to open up about things that potentially contradict her image as part of a ‘perfect’ first family only emphasise that every person has their problems but that these do not have to define the narrative of your life. She handles her issues with the utmost grace and courage in sharing these stories.
Michelle Obama is a figure that women in 2019 aspire to be, someone who grows up in a working class Black community on the south side of Chicago, and attends Princeton University then Harvard law through sheer determination and hard work. A modern embodiment of the American dream and a hero to women all over the world, her book sales speak for themselves, ‘Becoming’ has started a conversation about what it is to be a woman and how as women our stories are essential for others to learn and thrive. I am very here for Michelle Obama mania.