Her chic ensembles turned fashionistas into political Stans. Her musical co-signs become viral hits (see: Elle Varner) and her pen pal? Oh, just some woman named Beyoncé. Michelle Obama serves as the prototype for presidential spouses, doing more than just stand, smile and wave.
For one, during her husband’s presidency, she’s taken more of a hands-on approach to exterior design than prior First Ladies. As a mother of two—Malia and Sasha—Mrs. Obama applied her nurturing traits to the White House’s shrubbery. In her May 2012 book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, Obama recalls the garden initiative she started in 2009 that had her planting fruits and veggies on the White House lawn, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden. Michelle admits she didn’t have a green thumb but it was what the garden represented that got her dirt-digging. “I wanted it to be the starting point for something bigger. “As both a mother and a first lady, I was alarmed by reports of skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and the dire consequences for our children’s health,” she writes. “And I hoped this garden would help begin a conversation about this issue—a conversation about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.”
Subsequently, the toned and towering (she stands at 5’11”) go-getter launched an anti-obesity campaign called “Let’s Move!” Tagteaming with Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Mo aimed to decrease the rate of obesity in 8- to 18-year-olds by encouraging them to take on more active lifestyles. Even Bey got in on the movement by remixing her hit “Get Me Bodied” into a youth-friendly version titled “Move Your Body” to rouse a middle-school flash mob to help Obama’s cause.
When Mrs. Obama swapped dancing for public speaking, the whole world listened. —Adelle Platon
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