Why Did Michelle Obama Sob After Leaving the White House? What She Revealed In ‘Becoming’

Michelle Obama’s new memoir Becoming is already a best seller. In the deeply insightful and personal book, the former first lady talks about her childhood and upbringing in a working-class family on the South Side of Chicago. The Princeton alum also reveals her insecurities about being at an Ivy League school coming from her background, her relationship with her husband, former President Barack Obama, and everything in between.

For eight years, we watched the brilliant and statuesque first lady carry out her duties to the citizens of the United States. She promoted her “Let’s Move” program, advocated for better nutrition in school lunches, motivated girls in particular to get an education and everything in between. However, though she was a glowing example to many, she also dealt with backlash, racists attacks, comments about her body, and everything in between. It might seem shocking then, that as she and the former president left the White House for good in Jan. 2017, Mrs. Obama wept. In Becoming she reveals why she was so overwhelmed with emotion.

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama | Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Worn out and exhausted

By the end of her tenure as first lady in the White House, Michelle Obama was exhausted. Though she was widely popular, she had also endured constant attacks, including being called an ape in heels. Not only had she been forced to contend with being “on” all the time, like the rest of us, she also endured the absolute grueling year that led to the 2016 Presidential election. In Becoming, the Harvard graduate revealed, “I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally. The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person. It was as if there was some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know—a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.”

In a state of shock

Like many of us, Michelle Obama was shocked when Donald Trump was elected to the highest office in the land. Like everyone else, she had watched his sexist and racist rhetoric, but unlike the rest of us, she was forced to attend his inauguration. Standing next to her husband in a sea of nearly all-white faces, it was in direct contrast to the multicultural crowd her husband had seen in 2009 and 2013. Somewhere in the midst of that, the former first lady stopped trying to force a smile. In Becoming she writes, “Someone from Barack’s administration might have said that the optics there were bad—that what the public saw didn’t reflect the president’s reality or ideals. But in this case, maybe it did. Realizing it, I made my own optic adjustment: I stopped even trying to smile.”

Michelle Obama and Donald Trump

US First Lady Michelle Obama  salutes President elect Donald Trump  as they arrive for the beginning of the swearing-in ceremony of US 45th President in front of the Capitol in Washington on January 20, 2017. | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Sobbing on Air Force One

Perhaps one of the most revelatory things Michelle Obama revealed was that she sobbed on Air Force One as she and her husband left the White House. In a conversation with Oprah Winfrey, the former first lady explained, “When I got on the plane I think I sobbed for 30 minutes. And I think it was just the release of eight years of trying to do everything perfectly. I said to Barack, “That was so hard. What we just did that was so hard, and I’ve wanted to say that for eight years.”

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