Obama offers insight on racism and sexism

While Michelle Obama may no longer be the First Lady of the United States, that doesn’t mean she can’t share her wisdom with us anymore.

According to Women in the World, Obama recently opened up about her encounters with racism and sexism before the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th anniversary celebration. Interviewed onstage by WFCO president and CEO Lauren Casteel, Women in the World says Casteel asked Obama “whether she had been hurt by any of the shards from the glass ceiling she smashed by becoming America’s first black first lady.”

Obama then shared that what hurt the most were those insults that were meant to have maximum impact, Women in the World reports, adding that it was only magnified by knowing that her hard work as First Lady was undercut by her skin color. However, Obama noted that the “cuts” she received by shattering that glass ceiling don’t hold her back — and women in general shouldn’t be deterred, either.

“Women, we endure those cuts in so many ways that we don’t even notice we’re cut,” she said. “We are living with small tiny cuts, and we are bleeding every single day. And we’re still getting up.”

May we continue to get up — always.

 

Obama tackles discrimination

When a group of female students visited the White House for a screening of the new movie Hidden FiguresMichelle Obama took a moment to acknowledge how “ridiculous” gender and racial discrimination are.

At the event, which centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, The Cut reports that the outgoing first lady “spoke of the adversity she faced while on the campaign trail. ‘We were supposed to be hidden. People didn’t even want to believe we were real. But here we are,’ she said.”

Speaking from her own experience while also referencing Hidden Figures — which “tells the true story of three black women whose brilliant work as NASA mathematicians went largely unrecognized, according to The Cut — Obama continued to impart her words of wisdom to the students in attendance.

“Skin color, gender, is the most ridiculous defining trait that we cling to. It doesn’t matter,” she said, according to The Cut. “What matters is you believe in your own potential. Because people will try to tear you down, I guarantee you that. There will never be a point when people will 100 percent be cheering you on.”

Thank you, Mrs. Obama, for cheering on these students — and students all around the country.

Obama and InStyle team up for handbag collection

While fashion helps us look good, it can also do good — and that’s exactly the aim of a new handbag collection from First Lady Michelle Obama and InStyle.

Fresh off her stint as covergirl for InStyle‘s October issue, People Style says Obama and InStyle channeled their working relationship into a new line of handbags that will benefit the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, the First Lady’s project to “to help adolescent girls around the world attend school since more than 62 million girls are currently not in classrooms due to physical, cultural, or financial barriers.”

Teaming up with American designers, the line features several limited-edition tote bags that depict a country of the designers’ choosing in which “Let Girls Learn is working to provide education to young women who need it,” reports People Style, and the resulting design is inspired by the culture of the country.

Designers like Carolina Herrera (who chose Peru), Prabal Gurung (who chose South Africa), Jason Wu, DKNY, Diane Von Furstenberg, Tanya Taylor and Narciso Rodriguez all joined in on the project, offering stylish tote designs that People Style says will be available only at shop.InStyle.com starting on Oct. 10 (pre-orders started on Sept. 12).

Totes start at $52, says People Style, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Let Girls Learn.

 

Obama fights to let girls learn

First Lady Michelle Obama has made it her mission since the 2015 launch of her Let Girls Learn campaign to attract attention to the global issue of girls’ education. And this week, Obama took on a three-country tour to further discuss the topic and encourage girls to fight for an education.

According to ELLE, the First Lady began her trip — part of her Let Girls Learn initiative — on Monday, June 27 with a visit to Kakata, Liberia to “visit a local leadership camp for girls and to encourage the young women there to stay in school.”

Obama later met with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who ELLE reports is “the first woman to be elected a head of state in Africa.” While Obama delivered an address to the leadership camp, USAID — the United States Agency for International Development — announced in union with the First Lady’s tour $27 million in funding to support “Let Girls Learn” in Liberia, says ELLE, and to expand Peace Corps programs.

After the stop in Liberia, Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia travelled to Morocco, where the First Lady was joined by actress Meryl Streep for a conversation with young girls in Marrakech about girls’ education, says the AP.

The last leg of the tour included a stop in Madrid, Spain, says the AP, in which Obama discussed her Let Girls Learn initiative, once again to bring attention to the “more than 62 million girls worldwide who don’t attend school.”

FLOTUS and Oprah talk gender equality

This week’s United State of Women summit not only brought to light some of the most important issues for women, it also brought together some of the most important female figures of our time share their thoughts on these topics — namely, First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.

According to the Huffington Post, Obama told the crowd gathered at the Tuesday, June 14 forum that a large part in helping women achieve gender equality comes from men’s efforts. Thus, men need to “be better” overall to facilitate the process.

“Be better fathers,” Obama offered, according to the Huffington Post. “Good lord, just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world, showing them what it feels like to be loved. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me.”

But Obama told Winfrey that her advice to “be better” doesn’t just apply to those men who are fathers; instead, it applies to all men in whatever roles they happen to occupy.

The Huffington Post says the first lady expanded upon her advice this way:

“Men can be better husbands, which is — be a part of your family’s life. Do the dishes. Don’t babysit your children. You don’t babysit your own children. Be engaged. Don’t just think going to work and coming home makes you a man. Being a father, being engaged, all that stuff is important. Be a better employer. When you are sitting at a seat of power at a table of any kind and you look around you just see you, it’s just you and a bunch of men around a table, on a golf course, making deals, and you allow that to happen, and you’re OK with that — be better.”

Obama continued to offer her insight on some other topics throughout the summit, as well, including delivering some spot-on advice on how to handle any naysayers that may come your way. According to the Huffington Post, the first lady told Winfrey:

“People won’t remember what other people say about you, but they will remember what you do … So my strategy — and I’ve always been like this. When a teacher would come and tell me that I couldn’t do something, I would get so much satisfaction proving them wrong. I’d be like, OK, all right, oh, you don’t think I’m going to do X, Y and Z, well, I’m going to be the best X, Y, Z you can imagine.”

Summing up Obama’s strategy on ignoring any haters — “The best revenge is success… and good work. You don’t have to say anything to the haters. You don’t have to acknowledge them at all. You just wake up every morning and be the best you you can be. And that tends to shut them up.”

 

To watch Obama and Winfrey’s complete discussion, click here.

Obama organizes women’s summit

While the clock is running down on the Obamas’ time in the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama is taking advantage of the time she has left to incite change in the United States.

On June 6, Obama announced a special summit to be convened next week entitled, “The United State of Women,” according to Women in the World. Set to kick off on June 14 in Washington, D.C., Women in the World says that summit will cover six distinct topics, among which are “economic empowerment, violence against women, entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Although news of the summit is exciting, perhaps equally as exciting are the women featured in the video announcement of the summit. Women such as Oprah, Shonda Rhimes, Tina Fey, Kerry Washington, Tory Burch and Aidy Bryant take part in the announcement, arguing that it’s “our movement … turning struggle into strength.”

A statement announcing the event explained its motivation this way:

“There’s a lot that’s been done by and for women and girls, but there’s still plenty to do … The summit will rally all of us together to celebrate what we’ve achieved, and how we’re going to take action moving forward.”

The summit will be live-streamed online, according to Women in the World. For more information about the United State of Women, click here.

Obama pushes to ‘let girls learn’

Of the many causes taken up by the Obamas during their time in the White House, one that First Lady Michelle Obama has championed is education, not just for all children, but specifically for girls, hoping to create a sexism-free education.

In her speech given Wednesday, March 23 in Argentina, The Huffington Post says that the First Lady had her own experiences with sexism in school, something that may have fueled her passion for the cause.

Obama said that she had teachers who “‘would call on the boys instead of the girls, even though the girls had better grades,’ and would ask her brother about his career ambitions while asking her what kind of man she wanted to marry,” according to The Huffington Post.

Although she experienced subtle sexism in school growing up, it certainly did not end there, Obama said.

“As I got older, I found that men would whistle at me as I walked down the street, as if my body were their property, as if I were an object to be commented on instead of a full human being with thoughts and feelings of my own … I began to realize that the hopes I had for myself were in conflict with the messages I was receiving from people around me.”

Pointing out that such comments made her question herself, Obama explained that after years of doubting herself and her abilities, she finally learned to stop caring about others’ opinions.

“I decided not to listen to the voices of those who doubted or dismissed me. Instead, I decided to listen to my own voice,” she said.

Acting on her experiences, Obama launched the “Let Girls Learn” initiative in March 2015, a partnership with the wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that aims to “‘to educate girls across the globe.'”

 

 

‘For the Girls,’ By the Girls

When eight top female singers unite to record one song, you know it’s for a good reason — and First Lady Michelle Obama was able to convene the powerhouses for a very special project ahead of her SXSW appearance.

According to TIME, the First Lady released a song titled, “This Is For My Girls,” on Wednesday, March 16 just before her SXSW Music Keynote Conversation. The song, penned by legendary songwriter Diane Warren, features not only singers like Kelly Clarkson and Lea Michele, but also Missy Elliott, Zendaya, Janelle Monaé, Jada Grace, Kelly Rowland and Chloe x Halle.

Done in a collaboration with AOL’s Makers series, TIME says that the track aims to “promote her Let Girls Learn initiative, which helps provide access to education to the estimated 62 million girls around the world without schooling.”

All proceeds from the track will be donated to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund, which aids in giving “adolescent girls get the secondary education they deserve.”

To listen to “This Is For My Girls” or to download the track, check out Itunes here.

 

She Leads, You Follow: State Dinner Edition

While most first families navigate public appearances and state dinners in style, the Obamas always seem to be the best dressed at any event they attend — and there was no exception at the U.S.-Canada State Dinner that took place last week on Thursday, March 10.

According to InStyle, First Lady Michelle Obama wore an indigo gown by Canadian designer Jason Wu. Featuring a mustard and cayenne red floral print, the strapless gown was cut in a figure-flattering A-line silhouette with a band at the natural waist and pleating at the bust. Mrs. Obama completed her regal look with sultry loose waves, natural makeup and minimal jewelry.

Style definitely runs in the family, as Sasha and Malia Obama attended the dinner in their own eye-catching ensembles. Both sisters settled on Naeem Khan gowns, according to Teen Vogue, with Malia opting for a cream A-line number with gold beading strewn about the bodice and skirt, while Sasha chose a high-neck lace number which she accented with a skinny leather collar necklace.

Although the First Family is dressed for the most posh of events, there are certain things we can learn from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

  1. Go bold – All three gowns worn by the women of the Obama family involved a print in some form or another; while Malia’s gown offered a demi-polka dot print with its patterned beading from bodice to hem, Sasha’s gown featured a bold lace overlay. Mrs. Obama’s gown, however, was done in a colorful floral print. While each pattern varies in its size, shape and color, they are bold in their own ways and add visual interest to their looks. The beading of Malia’s gown is a good alternative to an actual print, delivering both shine and texture to the look without a deliberate print. Sasha’s lace gown also offers a bold print from traditional lace, doing so with its burgundy, white and black coloring. Mrs. Obama’s gown renews a classic floral motif with its bright colors over a dark, textured background. When shopping for printed pieces, take the Obamas’ lead and look for twists on something traditional, like a beaded pattern or a rejuvenated floral.
  2. Go with grace – The thing that always makes their outfits is their grace, poise and confidence; the Obamas show that, no matter what you wear, confidence is what makes the outfit. So whether you are attending a state dinner, attending a wedding, heading out to a bar with your friends or just grocery shopping on a Sunday morning, be sure to carry yourself with confidence — confidence in not only your outfit, but most importantly in yourself.

 

She Leads, You Follow: The Ladies of the White House

Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia began their two-day visit to London today, which kicked off with a discussion of the future of girls’ education with Prince Harry. Although the Obamas are making headlines for their tea-time with Prince Harry, they are also being admired for their flawless fashion.

The Obamas were photographed as they stepped off of Air Force One looking nothing but stylish and sophisticated. POPSUGAR reports that First Lady Obama wore a citron dress with a cerulean blue lace overlay by Preen. Malia donned an Alice + Olivia dress sprinkled with sunflowers and paired with a powder blue pair of flats while Sasha wore a classic polka dot dress with black flats.

These three lovely ladies of the White House sure know a thing or two about style, so here’s what we can learn from the First Ladies of Style:

  1. Try lady-like lace with a twist – While Mrs. Obama went for a dress with a sweet lace overlay, the dress offered a new take on a classic by blending traditional lace with trendy color blocking. By pairing the bright blue lace over a citron background, it refreshes the lace, making it look modern and chic. To incorporate this look into your wardrobe, try looking for lace in different colors; most lace is done in white, ivory or black, so look for lace in colors like those on Mrs. Obama’s dress. Or, you can take traditional white lace and wear a bright tank underneath to mimic Mrs. Obama’s look.
  2. Don’t be afraid of bold florals – Malia Obama shows us that it is possible to pull off a bold floral print. The key, however, is to make sure that the size of the print is proportional to the size of the woman wearing it; that is, women that are bigger in stature (in height or weight or both) can wear bigger prints, while women that are smaller in stature (in height or weight or both) can wear smaller prints. Malia’s 5 foot 11 inch tall frame can carry a larger, bolder print, whereas someone who is five feet tall may be overwhelmed by such a large print. So if you like Malia’s look and want to try it out for yourself, be mindful of the size of the print in comparison to your stature.
  3. Classic styles are classic for a reason – Sasha’s polka dot dress is fashionable now and will still be fashionable 30 years from now. It is more than worth it to invest in timeless pieces like a polka dot dress, black pumps, fitted blazers and dark wash jeans not only because they will always be in style, but also because they can be paired with trendier items to refresh and revamp the classic pieces. When buying timeless styles, it is okay to spend a little bit more on them; you will get a lot of wear out of them, and they will probably be in your wardrobe for a long time, so paying a little more for a higher quality item will ensure that these pieces will stand the test of time.