Michelle Obama and Oprah Talk Womanhood, Self-Worth, and Ignoring the Haters

On June 14, Oprah interviewed First Lady Michelle Obama at the United State of Women Summit Conference in Washington DC. To say it’s an inspiring interview with two of America’s most influential women is seriously an understatement. More than 5,000 women and men were lucky enough to see it in person, with a live stream capturing it all for the viewers at home.


Michelle starts with acknowledging the tragedy in Orlando. Speaking directly to the audience, she says, “In tragic times in our country like these, it’s time for us to come together, to love each other, to support each other and not tear each other down.”

Then the interview begins with the idea of self-worth. Oprah starts by observing how she finds the root of most problems to be a lack in self-esteem. Michelle, as both a woman and also a president’s wife, explains that she deals with that same pressure that all women feel. “Our first job in life as women, I think, is get to know ourselves. And I think a lot of the time, we don’t do that. We spend a lot of time pleasing, satisfying, and looking out to the world to define who we are.” Knowing who you are helps break those negative messages, the First Lady explains.

As the conversation shifts to expectations, Michelle recalls when her husband was first planning on running for President. Her reaction was real: “Are you crazy? Like would you just chill out, and do something else with your life?” But once he was settled as a Presidential candidate, Michelle refused to read about the other First Ladies. She talks about wanting to create her own experience to do what’s best for her and her daughters, a comment that prompts a lot of applause from her audience.

Oprah and Michelle talk about bravery, having good support systems, and a job interview where Michelle brought baby Sasha with her. But each one came back to the same message: as a woman, you need to know who you are. Oprah describes it as “the thread that runs through everything. It’s the thing that allows you to stand in your own truth.”

When it comes to handling her haters, Michelle says she usually doesn’t allow herself to think about their comments. “It’s like letting someone walk up and slap you, you know? You would never do that, you would never just sit there and say ‘Slap me in the face, I’m cool with it.’ So why would you open yourself up to that?” She advises her applauding audience not to worry about the haters but to “be the best you you can be.” That will shut the haters up.

After Michelle talks about the journey public service has created for her, the conversation takes a more light-hearted tone when Oprah asks her if she ever has moments where she’s cool with just being the First Lady in the White House. This gets Michelle to list some of the major perks of being married to the President, who she describes as “swagalicious” about 26 minutes in.

The topic of Michelle’s hubby naturally leads to the recognition of the men in the audience. To them, she advises to “Be better at everything” like being engaged fathers, kind husbands, and fair employers. Even though she only briefly addresses the men in the room, they seem to get the message loud and clear by the sound of their cheers.

The one thing Michelle wants the audience to leave with? “The work always continues…We can never be complacent and think that we’ve arrived now as women.” She encourages them to continue educating and building themselves in order to continue making the world a better and more equal place. Even though she’s leaving the White House soon, we know Michelle Obama’s incredible influence will continue long after her term as the First Lady.

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