The untold truth of Michelle Obama

Ever since her husband was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States in 2009, Michelle Obama was anything but the "president's wife." Graduating cum laude from Princeton then earning her law degree from Harvard, Obama has dedicated her professional and public life to activism and embracing her role as the first black First Lady with style and grace. We have to admit; her Carpool Karaoke was pretty cool as well.

Now that she no longer resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, her legacy and influence continue to reach millions: her memoir "Becoming" shot to the best-sellers list and she was named America's "Most Admired Woman" in 2018. But there's more to know about Michelle Lavaughn Robinson Obama. From her unlikely friendship with another former president, to her challenge to tech giants in Silicon Valley, to the one thing she can't forgive Donald Trump for, let's take a closer look at the untold truth of Michelle Obama.

George Bush is her 'partner in crime'

With the ever-growing state of divisiveness in American politics, there might not be a more unlikely friendship than the one between George W. Bush and Michelle Obama. However, the pair legitimately seems to enjoy each other's company despite being on different ends of the political spectrum. "He's my partner in crime at every major thing where all the 'formers' gather," Obama told Today of her husband's predecessor to the Oval Office. "I love him to death. He's a wonderful man; he's a funny man."

Speaking with Bush's daughter Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show (per Time), the former First Lady said that the media's "political discourse" tends to focus on the "nasty parts" and we've become a culture where "nasty sells." So she hopes their relationship can serve as an example to others. "I don't know that I agree with him on everything. But the truth is much more complicated and complex than that," Obama explained. "And I'd love if we as a country could get back to the place where we didn't demonize people who disagreed with us. Because that's essentially the difference between Republicans and Democrats."

Questlove spent 10 years making her a playlist

Per People, The Roots drummer Questlove attempted to make a playlist for former president Barack Obama, but it "consumed" him and he never finished. Thankfully for Michelle Obama, Questlove got over his playlist-block and curated an epic three-volume playlist called The Michelle Obama Musiaqualogy, which includes "songs from Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin to Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé" in its 1,125 tracks. 

"I made sure the very first song that I chose was an actual song that was in existence the week she was born. I just played imaginary, music scorer of her life story," Questlove told the tab. "It was such a task, but I'm glad to have gotten these songs over to her. Now, I feel like my mission of getting the Obama's music is finally done, some 10 years later." He added that creating the perfect playlist for the former first lady was his "challenge in life."

Per Billboard, "The Michelle Obama Musiaqualogy volume one spans 1964-1979, volume two covers 1980-1997 and volume three runs from 1997-2018." Questlove's hard work paid off. "Like a lot of people, I connect many of my memories with the songs and melodies I was listening to at the time," Michelle Obama said in a statement to Billboard."That's why I'm so thankful to Questlove for curating these playlists and infusing them with his signature style. Life's a little better when we live it to Questlove's beat."

Marriage counseling worked

Michelle and Barack Obama celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary in October 2018, but during an appearance on The Tonight Show, the Harvard grad told host Jimmy Fallon the couple weren't always "hashtag relationship goals" and needed marriage counseling. "Marriage is hard, even for us," she said. "I was one of those wives who thought, 'I'm taking you to marriage counseling so you can be fixed, Barack Obama.' Because I was like, 'I'm perfect.' I was like, 'Dr. X, please fix him.' And then, our counselor looked over at me. I was like, 'What are you looking at? I'm perfect.'"

She went on to say that marriage counseling was a "turning point" in helping her understand "that it wasn't up to my husband to make me happy." She decided to share this information to help young married couples who find themselves struggling in their relationship. "I want young people to know that marriage is work; even the best marriages require work. I call them a vexation. It's a choice that you make again and again and again because I don't want young people to quit the minute they have a hardship," she explained.

Facebook feminism is not for her

In 2013, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg released her best-selling book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. With Sandberg telling women to demand a seat at the table and reform corporate culture from the inside, she became a feminist icon. However, a mere five years later, the #MeToo movement showed it wasn't that simple. Coupled with allegations from The New York Times that Sandberg's aggressive ambitions for Facebook played a key role in allowing Russian and alt-right propaganda to take hold on the social network, her message and "feminist street cred" was lost, according to The Atlantic. (Facebook has since refuted the allegations by The New York Times.) 

Regarding Sanberg's particular brand of feminism, The Washington Post additionally reported that it was dealt "the final, fatal blow" by Michelle Obama who told the Barclays Center crowd in Brooklyn during a stop on her book tour, "I tell women, that whole 'you can have it all' — nope, not at the same time; that's a lie." She continued, "It's not always enough to lean in, because that sh*t doesn't work all the time."

She'll never forgive Donald Trump

During a March 2011 interview on Good Morning America, Donald Trump claimed he had "a little doubt" about Barack Obama's citizenship. "Because he grew up and nobody knew him," he added. "The whole thing is very strange." That same month, Trump appeared on The View and openly challenged the 44th president to "show his birth certificate." Obama eventually released his long-form birth certificate in hopes that would shut down the birther conspiracy theories, but it didn't work. Trump then doubled-down on the dubious conspiracy theory, tweeting in 2012, "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud." 

The Washington Post received an advanced copy of Michelle Obama's memoir in which she addressed Trump's promotion of the conspiracy for the first time. "The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks," she wrote. "What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family's safety at risk. And for this I'd never forgive him." 

Of course, Trump had to have the last word. "I'll never forgive [President Obama] for what he did to our United States military. I'll never forgive him for many other things," he told reporters after hearing Obama's comments.

'When they go low, we go....?'

During the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama gave a rousing speech asking voters to ignore then-candidate Donald Trump's rhetoric as it doesn't represent the true spirit of the country. Urging the crowd not to stoop to that level, she famously said, "When they go low, we go high." Since then, many Democrats have ignored that plea and started to advocate fighting fire with fire. 

"It is time for us as Democrats to be as tough as they are, to be as dedicated as they are, to be as committed as they are," former Attorney General Eric Holder said (per CNN). "Michelle always says, 'When they go low, we go high.' No. No. When they go low, we kick them." Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' attorney, reiterated that claim during a speech at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding. "What I fear for this Democratic Party that I love so much is that we have a tendency to bring nail clippers to a gunfight," he said. "When they go low, I say, we hit harder."

When asked by Blavity if she still believes going high is the best way to go, Obama replied, "I absolutely still believe that we've got to go high — always and without exception. It's the only way we can keep our dignity. Because if we lose our dignity, what do we have left?" However, she added, "going high doesn't mean giving up or ignoring reality."

She didn't think Barack would be elected

Speaking at London's Royal Festival Hall during a stop on her book tour, Michelle Obama revealed she only supported her husband's bid for the presidency because she didn't think America was ready for a black man to win. "One of the reasons why I agreed to support Barack's run for president was that deep down I was like, 'There's no way he's going to win.' And we can just sort of get this out of the way, and I can be that supportive wife going 'Oh, honey, you tried. Um, OK, now let's go back to our lives as usual,'" she said per CNN. "That was my whole plan, you know, because I didn't believe that America was ready for a black president, let alone a black president named Barack Hussein Obama."

Spoiler: Barack Obama was elected. And once he ascended to the highest office in the land, many believed this would usher in a "post-racial America." Michelle Obama understood that was a naive assumption. "My grandparents' lives were affected by Jim Crow. We mistakenly thought that Barack Obama was going to erase hundreds of years of history in eight years. That is ridiculous," she told the London crowd. "We are putting down markers, we make progress and going backward doesn't mean the progress wasn't real. It just means that it's hard. What we are trying to do is shift culture."

She broke royal protocol

If we know anything about the royal family, it's their staunch adherence to protocol. So when Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth II shared a friendly hug during a Buckingham Palace G20 reception in 2009, the gesture caused a media frenzy. Per Daily Mail, interactions "concerning the sovereign" are perfectly clear: "Whatever you do, don't touch the Queen." That's why the public display of affection between the two women astonished onlookers. "We couldn't believe what we were seeing," one said.

Per HuffPost, Obama wrote in her memoir how she worried that the so-called scandal would draw attention from her husband's "efforts abroad," but her anxiety was unfounded. "It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection," a spokesman from Buckingham Palace said in a statement. Mrs. Obama further revealed in her memoir that the hug happened because "we were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes." She added, "I then did what's instinctive to me anytime I feel connected to a new person, which is to express my feelings outwardly. I laid a hand affectionately across her shoulder."

"But I tried not to let the criticism rattle me. If I hadn't done the proper thing at Buckingham Palace, I had at least done the human thing," Obama continued. "I daresay that the Queen was okay with it, too, because when I touched her, she only pulled closer, resting a gloved hand lightly on the small of my back." 

She suffered a miscarriage and underwent IVF treatments

In her memoir, Michelle Obama revealed she suffered a miscarriage 20 years ago and underwent fertility treatments to conceive her two daughters, Malia and Sasha. "We were trying to get pregnant, and it wasn't going well," Obama wrote (per The Associated Press). "We had one pregnancy test come back positive, which caused us both to forget every worry and swoon with joy, but a couple of weeks later I had a miscarriage, which left me physically uncomfortable and cratered any optimism we felt."

The Obamas then turned to IVF treatments to help them achieve their dream of having children. But while the former First Lady admits her "sweet, attentive husband" supported her, his job in Illinois' state legislature left her feeling alone during the process and "leaving me largely on my own to manipulate my reproductive system into peak efficiency."

Discussing the ordeal with Good Morning America, the former first lady said, "I felt like I failed because I didn't know how common miscarriages were because we don't talk about it. We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we're broken." She said one of her goals is to open up the conversation about fertility. "I think it's the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work, and how they don't work."

She has a message for Silicon Valley

According to Reuters study about women working in tech (per Forbes), "30% of 450 technology executives said that their groups had no women in leadership positions" and "25% of IT jobs in the US are filled by women," with "56% of these women" leaving the field during the "peak of their careers." In Silicon Valley, the statistics are worse: women make up 20% or less of the workforce for major technology companies Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter.

Michelle Obama understandably sees this as a problem. "Girls walk away from tech and science. … There's something about how this subject is being taught," she said at Apple's annual developer conference, WWDC, in 2016 (per CNN). "You guys are smarter than that. You're better than that, let's figure it out." She urged companies to "want to" get more women in tech. "And that's where I look to the fellas in the room and say, 'Are you ready? Are you really ready to have women at the table? Then make room," she continued.