Michelle Obama “hates” her appearance “all the time and no matter what,” she revealed in her new book.
The Light We Carry, the former First Lady’s second memoir, builds on her 2018 title Becoming, and is intended as a “toolkit for living boldly”. In the new book, which was taken from The Guardian’s Saturday magazine, Obama discusses ways to overcome her “fearful spirit”, which she compares to “a life partner you didn’t choose”.
“I’ve been living with my fearful mind for 58 years now,” she wrote. “She makes me uncomfortable. She likes to see me weak.
This part of her mind constantly has negative thoughts about her appearance, writes Obama. There are “a lot of mornings” where she turns on the bathroom light, looks in the mirror and “desperately wants[s] to turn it off again”.
Her appearance, and her height in particular (she’s 5’11”) is something that Obama has always been uncertain about, she explains in the book. Always ‘closing the rear’ at school “created a small wound in me, the slightest kernel of self-loathing that would prevent me from embracing my strengths”.
Obama also admits to experiencing a “low-grade form of depression” during the coronavirus pandemic. “I continued the work I had been doing – speaking at virtual voter registration campaigns, supporting good causes, acknowledging people’s pain – but in private I was finding it harder to access my own hope or feel like I could make a real difference,” she wrote. When approached by Democrats to speak at the party’s 2020 National Convention, she postponed her response — though she eventually agreed, calling Donald Trump a “bad president” in his speech.
Every time she thought about the offer to speak at the convention, she felt “stuck,” she has now revealed on The Light We Carry. She describes being “caught in frustration and grief for what, as a country, we had already lost”.
“I felt a blanket of discouragement settle over me, my mind slipping to a dull place,” she wrote. “I was less able to be optimistic or think reasonably about the future. Worse, I felt borderline cynical – tempted to conclude that I was helpless, to give in to the idea that in When it comes to the epic issues and massive worries of the day, nothing could be done.
In The Light We Carry, Obama also reflects on the 2016 presidential election. “Whether or not the 2016 election was a direct rebuke” of her husband, who became America’s first black president, “it it hurts. This still it hurts,” she wrote. “It shook me to the core to hear the man who had replaced my husband as president openly and shamelessly use ethnic slurs, making selfishness and hatred acceptable, refusing to condemning white supremacists or supporting people protesting for racial justice,” she adds. “It felt like something more, something much uglier, than just a political defeat.”
Later in the book, she describes watching the “devastating” 2021 attack on the Capitol, which was “perhaps the scariest thing [she had] never witnessed.
Since its publication, his first book Becoming has been translated into 50 languages and over 17 million copies have been sold worldwide. The Light We Carry is also expected to top the bestseller charts. In 2020, she was named America’s Most Admired Woman, according to the Gallup Poll, for the third consecutive year.