*First Lady Michelle Obama is a strong woman, but even she wasn’t immune to feeling the effects of the media’s treatment of her while traveling with her husband, then-Senator Barack Obama, during his 2008 presidential campaign.
For Mrs. Obama, the experience was a real eye-opener as she admitted how it challenged her to gain control of her public perception.
“As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others,” she said. “Was I too loud or too emasculating? Or was I too soft? Too much of a mom and not enough of a career woman?” Obama said Saturday (May 9) during a commencement address to the 2015 class of Tuskegee University.
As she continued, Obama touched on the New Yorker’s controversial cover of the first couple that featured them as radical militants in the White House. This in addition to reports from CNN of Fox News calling her “husband’s crony of color” and “Obama’s baby mama.”
“Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover. It was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and a machine gun,” she told the crowd. “Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder ‘just how are people seeing me?’”
“All of this used to really get to me. Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom,” continued Obama.
“But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me. I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself – and the rest would work itself out.”
To see Mrs. Obama’s commencement speech, check out the video below: