Even Michelle Obama Struggles With Self-Doubt and Body Image. Here’s How She Manages.

The former First Lady shares personal stories in her memoir, ‘The Light We Carry.’
Michelle Obama speaks onstage at the Clooney Foundation for Justice Inaugural Albie Awards.

Michelle Obama speaks onstage at the Clooney Foundation for Justice Inaugural Albie Awards.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama shared a message most women can relate to. Just like the rest of us, she struggles with body image issues, but she’s learned how to deal with them and remind herself of what matters.

Obama felt overwhelmed when the world shut down in March 2020, and her anxiety got the best of her, she revealed to People.

“We were all at home watching what felt like our country and our world unraveling,“ she explained. “The death tolls mounting, violence, the insurrection, healthcare system crushed, all of it. I was in a low place.”

When everything felt out of control, she turned to knitting, which she taught herself via YouTube videos.

In her upcoming memoir, The Light We Carry, the 58-year-old details her experiences with leaving the White House, the pandemic, racism, aging—and how she’s learned to deal with all of it.

“I can look back and I can say, This is how I deal with fear,” she added about the contents of the 336-page book which releases on Nov. 15. “These are the things I say to myself when I need to pick myself up. This is how I stay visible in a world that doesn’t necessarily see a tall Black woman. This is how I stay armored up when I’m attacked. The book is that offering.”

Obama has been in the public eye for years and is used to scrutiny, cameras and headlines. But, that doesn’t mean she’s immune to the intrusive little voices inside her own head.

“I personally have plenty of mornings when I flip on the bathroom light, take one look, and desperately want to flip it off again,” she writes, mentioning to People that she is working on being kinder to herself.

“There are societal signals all around us telling us that there is something wrong with some part of us,” she continued. "We’re supposed to age gracefully. We’re supposed to be the same shape that we were when we were in our 20s after giving birth to two, three kids. We’re not supposed to go gray. Our face isn’t supposed to wrinkle."

She explains that these aren’t necessarily the voices in her head, but rather the narrative that is spewed from media and unrealistic societal standards. The “notion” that people—including herself—aren’t affected by it is “laughable.”

“How do I reverse that trend?” she constantly asks herself. “How do I light up for myself first?”

Obama reminds herself that she is healthy. The lines that form around her smile are a sign that she is and has been happy.

“I try to find the things about me that I love and start my day a little more kind,“ she explains. “And that’s just a small simple tool. It doesn’t require a gym membership. It doesn’t require anybody else.”

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.