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First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey Hold a Conversation on the Next Generation of Women

First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey Hold a Conversation on the Next Generation of Women


MS. WINFREY: Hi, everybody! (applause) We are here for the
United State of Women! (applause) Mrs. Obama: Now, I know you
all have had a busy, packed, full day — very
inspiring, right? (applause) And hopefully, our
conversation will live up to the hype. But before we begin, of
course, I want to take a moment to just acknowledge
what has happened in Orlando — that even as we gather
here today and we talk about the challenges that women
face, we have to remember those that we lost in
Orlando, as well as those who were injured, and all of
their loves ones, and know that we will all continue to
keep them in our thoughts and prayers. But the one thing I just
want us all to know — that in tragic times like these,
in this country, it’s time for us to come together, to
love each other, to support each other and not
tear each other down. (applause) So I hope that that is one
of the many takeaways that we move forward with. And I just love you all for
the work — the amazing work you all have done today and
that you do every single day. So I’m going to turn
it over to Oprah. MS. WINFREY: Hello. Mrs. Obama: We have
Oprah Winfrey here. (applause) MS. WINFREY: And our First
Lady of the United States. (applause) Mrs. Obama: Of America. MS. WINFREY: Of America,
not just of women, yes. (laughter) So I think that the fact
that — I’ve been watching this being streamed all day,
and the fact that there are men here, women here of
all ages — young women, maturing women — and all
walks of life is a move in the right direction,
would you not say? Mrs. Obama: Absolutely,
absolutely. I’m just proud of all the
work that’s been done here. So I agree. MS. WINFREY: Well, I wanted
to start with the issue of self-value and self-worth. Because over the years, I’ve
interviewed thousands of people, most of them women,
and I would say that the root of every dysfunction
I’ve ever encountered, every problem has been some sense
of a lacking of self-value or of self-worth. And I know that we all know
that we live in a world where you are constantly
being bombarded by images that encourage you to
be liked, literally. And it’s a lot
to live up to. And I wonder, particularly
you, who have had to face this as your own woman and
as a candidate’s wife, the pressure of other people’s
expectations — and what can you share with our audience
here and online that would help us stand more inside
ourselves and own that space? Mrs. Obama: Very
good question. Well, one of the things
that I always — I tell my mentees, I tell my daughters
is that our first job in life as women, I think, is
to get to know ourselves. And I think a lot of
times we don’t do that. We spend our time pleasing,
satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we
are — listening to the messages, the images, the
limited definitions that people have of who we are. And that’s true for
women of color for sure. There is a limited box that
we are put in, and if we live by that limited
definition we miss out on a lot of who we are. But it takes taking the time
to know who you are to be able to deal with the
onslaught of negative messages that
you’re bound to get. So for me, I came into this
with a pretty clear sense of myself. And some of that
comes with age. Some of that comes
with experience. Some of that comes from
being fortunate enough to have been raised by a loving
mother, strong, focused, and a father who
loved me dearly. So I fortunately came into
this situation with a really clear sense of who I was. So when you hear the
smack-talking from outside the world, it’s easy to
sort of brush that off. Because I know who I am. (applause) MS. WINFREY: But when yo
came in, there were the world’s expectations, there
were other expectations. What did you really expect? Mrs. Obama: It’
interesting, I really tried not to limit myself
by expectations. MS. WINFREY: Because nobody
grows up thinking “I’m going to be a First Lady.” Mrs. Obama: Absolutely not. And as you all know, when
Barack was talking about running, I was
like, are you crazy? I mean, would you just,
like, chill out and do something else
with your life? (laughter) So I was working hard to try
to get him to do the other thing, so —
whatever that was. So, yeah, absolutely, it
wasn’t something that I could have planned for,
could have expected from myself. But one of the things I knew
— because people asked all throughout the campaign what
are your issues going to be, what are you going to be
like as First Lady, and I said, I have to wait until I
get there to figure out what that’s going to
feel like for me. I specifically did not read
other First Ladies’ books, because I didn’t want to
be influenced by how they defined the role. I knew that I would have
to find this role — (applause) — very uniquely and
specifically to me and who I was. So I came in thinking about
who I wanted to be in this position and who I needed to
be for my girls, first of all. So you remember, Malia
and Sasha were little itty-bitties when
we came into office. I mean, it still moves me
to tears to think about the first day I put them in
the car with their Secret Service agents to go to
their first day of school. And I saw them leaving and I
thought, what on Earth am I doing to these babies? So I knew right then and
there my first job was to make sure they were going
to be whole and normal and cared for in the midst
of all this craziness. (applause) And then I started to
understand that if I was going to protect them, I
had to, number one, protect myself and protect my time. So I knew going into this
role that I didn’t want to waste any time; that any
time I spent away from my kids — and I actually took
this on even before I became First Lady, even as a
lawyer, as a vice president at a hospital. One of the things I realized
is that if you do not take control over your time and
your life, other people will gobble it up. If you don’t prioritize
yourself, you constantly start falling lower and
lower on your list, your kids fall lower and
lower on your list. MS. WINFREY: So by the time
you got here you knew how to do that. Mrs. Obama: I knew
how to do that. MS. WINFREY: I think that’s
one of the number-one issues with women. I never, in all my years
of interviewing, have ever heard a man say, you know, I
just don’t have the time, I just don’t, I don’t
find a way to balance. Mrs. Obama: You know why? Because they don’t have
to balance anything. Sorry. (laughter and applause) And I hope that that is
changing, but so many men don’t have to do it all. MS. WINFREY: So how
did you figure it out? I’ve read the story — I’m
sure many of you have heard the story of early on,
you were going to a job interview and you took Sasha
with you to interview. Mrs. Obama: Oh, yeah. MS. WINFREY: We never heard,
did you get that job? Mrs. Obama: I did. I did. MS. WINFREY: Okay. Mrs. Obama: I was the vice
president of community outreach for the University
of Chicago Hospital. (applause) And I got that job because
I didn’t compromise. Because before getting —
working at that job, I was working as an
associate dean. I had had Malia,
Barack was in the U.S. Senate, so I was basically
mothering part time on my own, having — I
had a full-time job. So I tried part time — I’ve
talked about this before — I tried part time because I
thought, I have to figure this out, I have to be able
to pick the kids up, I’ve got to be able
to do all this. So I tried part time. So the only thing I found
out from part time was that you just get paid part time. (applause) Because I was still
doing a full-time job — MS. WINFREY:
Everything, yeah. Mrs. Obama: — I was just
cramming it all into the few hours that I was there
and driving myself crazy. So I had vowed that if I
continued to work, that I would never settle
for part time. I knew what my time
and energy was worth. So when I went into that —
the president’s office to interview for that job, I
thought, I have a little baby, I don’t have
babysitting, so here we go, we’re all going to go in to
see the president because this is who I am. (laughter) And I said, and if I take
this job, I need flexibility and I need full pay. So if you want me to leave
my baby and my kids, then you’re going to have to pay
me, because I’m going to do the job — that was
never a question. I could deliver. But I knew then I wasn’t
going to sell myself short. And I had the leverage,
at the time, to make that decision. MS. WINFREY: Well, that
comes from a sense of — and you said you arrived here
knowing who you were. I think that is the journey. That is the journey. And there is a question
from FarmFreshGal. Mrs. Obama: FarmFreshGal. MS. WINFREY: She must
have her own garden. Mrs. Obama: I hope. MS. WINFREY:
Like we do, yes. And FarmFreshGal says,
“As a woman leader in the corporate world, I feel like
I have to be brave a lot,” — and what you just
described was brave — “any advice or tips on bravery?” Mrs. Obama: That’s
a good question. Gosh, I don’t know. If I ever — I don’t
ever view it as bravery. MS. WINFREY: You didn’t
think that was brave? Saying, look, I’m going
to be paid full time? Mrs. Obama: Right. MS. WINFREY: I
think that’s brave. Mrs. Obama: I just viewed it
as I’m not going to be taken advantage of. (applause) I am just not going to
keep selling myself — MS. WINFREY: You
knew your value. Mrs. Obama: Value. That’s absolutely right. MS. WINFREY: You
knew your value. I was just saying that
to a friend recently. Mrs. Obama: And that goes
back to knowing who you are. And I think as women and
young girls, we have to invest that time in getting
to understand who we are and liking who we are. (applause) Because I like me. I’ve liked me for
a very long time. (applause) So for a long time I’ve had
a very good relationship with myself. MS. WINFREY: I know. Mrs. Obama: And we like —
we all like ourselves in here. But you’ve got to work
to get to that place. And if you’re going out into
the world as a professional and you don’t know who you
are, you don’t know what you want, you don’t know how
much you’re worth, then you have to be brave. And then you have to count
on the kindness and goodness of others to bestow that
goodness on you when you should be working to
get it on your own. Because you deserve it. MS. WINFREY: Because you
know your own value. Mrs. Obama: Know
your own value. Absolutely. MS. WINFREY: Okay. So when you’re saying “I
know who I am” — and I’m telling you, it’s the
thread that runs through everything. It’s the thing that allows
you to stand in your own truth. And one of the things for
years that Maya Angelou used to say to me, is “Baby, you
need to know that you are alone are enough. You alone are enough.” (applause) So how do we get there? You were there. You’ve loved
yourself a long time. What is that process? Mrs. Obama: I think it’s
different for everyone. And I can’t say that I’ve
loved myself for a long time, but there was a
journey to get there. And some of it starts as
a young girl — when you confront your first bully,
the first time somebody calls you out — your
name, as we would say. The first disappointments
and failures that you have, how do you deal with that? What supports systems do
you set up for yourself? I always tell young girls,
surround yourself with goodness. I learned early on how to
get the haters out of my life. (applause) You’ve got to just sort
of surround yourself with people who uplift
you, who hold you up. And for whatever reason —
well, I was lucky I had people like — I had
parents who held me up. I had a father
that valued me. MS. WINFREY: I think people
who have good parents are — they come into the world
with a strength, yes, and an advantage. Mrs. Obama: And that
was an advantage. But if you don’t have that
parent — that mother, that father — then you’ve
got to find it. You’ve got to
find those people. Because they’re out there. I tell my mentees all of —
there is somebody out there who loves you and who is
waiting to love you, and you just have to find them. And that means you have
to make room for them. And if you’re surrounded by
a bunch of low-life folks who aren’t supporting you,
then there is no room for the people who do love you. (applause) MS. WINFREY: You mentioned
a moment ago “the haters.” How do you handle the
haters, particularly in this office, where haters have
to be handled politically correctly and
with discretion? (laughter) And I know so many people
are faced with it — we know this about social media —
people say just the meanest things, and you’re faced in
your life with people who can tear you down a lot —
the haters, hateration. Mrs. Obama: Well, when it
comes to social media — there are just times I turn
off the world, you know. There are just some times
you have to give yourself space to be quiet, which
means you’ve got to set those phones down. You can’t be reading
all that stuff. I mean, that’s like letting
somebody just walk up and slap you, you know? (laughter) You would never do that. You would never just sit
there and go, slap me in the face and I’m good with it. No. So why would you open
yourself up to that? So that’s one thing. With social media and —
I don’t read that stuff. I learned that early
in the campaign. I couldn’t keep reading
stuff about my husband and what people thought and —
because I knew who he was. I knew what was going on
in our home, in our lives. So I didn’t need to read
about it from somebody else. But the other thing that I
have found, particularly in this job, that it’s —
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, okay, 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. So when it came to this
role, I just said, you know, let me just be First Lady. Let me wake up every day and
work hard to do something of value, and to do it well,
and to do something consequential, and to do
something that I care about. And then let that
speak for itself. And that would shut up the
haters, because I would have a whole portfolio of stuff
that defined me because it’s what I did, not
what you called me. (applause) So the best revenge
is success — MS. WINFREY: Is
success, yes. Mrs. Obama: —
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. MS. WINFREY: You know, I’ve
always thought too, that the best success comes when you
can actually shift your paradigm to service. And obviously, you are in a
position of public service. Was it a conscious,
intentional decision to sort of sit still, be with this
place, and then allow your passion to fuel your
interest, allow your passion to lead you to all the
things you’ve been able to do with international girls’
education, with health and wellness? Was that a conscious,
intentional decision? Mrs. Obama: Absolutely. Because in this —
particularly when you’re in public service, you’re First
Lady, the President and you’re interacting with the
world, people can smell inauthenticity. They know when you are not
what you appear to be. And that was always
something that I said in this role that — I want
people to know me, know Michelle, Michelle Robinson
Obama, not the First Lady. In every interaction I have
had with anybody who’s had some connection with
me, I have tried to be authentically myself. And in order to do that, I
learned that I have to do things that I
authentically care about. Because if I fundamentally,
deep down have a belief in the cause, and I — it moves
me, then I’m going to be excited about it. That excitement is going to
be conveyed to the people that I’m trying to reach. It’s not going to
be a heavy lift. That’s why people say, how
can you speak in front of all these people and
do this every day? Look, I get energy
from people. And not everybody in
politics, in public service are people-people. Barack and I really do — we
are energized by the people we meet, by the military
spouses that I meet out there. I picked working with
military families because they moved me. I met them out on the
campaign trail and I didn’t know that there were
millions of military families out there serving
and sacrificing in ways that we take for granted
in this country. And I vowed then and there,
just from meeting them, that if I got to be First Lady I
would try to be that voice for them, I would try to
shine that light on them. (applause) So that came out of a direct
passion for who those people were and what I
learned about them. MS. WINFREY: And I remember
when you all first arrived at the White House, you said
to the country that this is your house, and we’re going
to open this up as your house. And so when I saw all those
Girl Scouts out on the lawn, I went, you all really
did open up the house. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: Yes, yes. That’s been some of the most
fulfilling things we’ve been able to do in
the White House. It’s really bringing people
here who would never, ever get to set foot on that lawn
and walk into those doors. (applause) I tell my mentees all the
time — you know, one of the things I want them to take
away when they come — because they come regularly;
they come at least once a month and we sit down and we
talk, and they have seminars — and I want them all to
know you walk into the White House every day, and you
walk up to the First Lady of the United States and say,
“Hey, Michelle, what’s going on?” And if you can do that,
you can do anything. If you can exist in this
space at this time in this moment — (applause) MS. WINFREY: Yes. Mrs. Obama: And there is no
class that you can’t handle. There’s no school whose
rejection will make you fold or make you crumble. You’ve been here. And I’ve watched so many
kids come through those gates and really be in that
space — picking tomatoes with me in the garden,
getting to sit in and have tastings at the state
dinner, being invited to watch Hamilton. I mean, just watching their
eyes just experiencing things that really only
the privileged get to experience, but having it be
kids and people who would never believe they would
set foot in that house. MS. WINFREY: You see
them get empowered — Mrs. Obama: Oh, gosh, yeah. MS. WINFREY: — and
transformed in the process. Mrs. Obama: So many kids,
you think their world view will never be the same. And that’s the least we can
do as President and First Lady. I think that’s the
obligation of anyone who lives in that house. (applause) MS. WINFREY: How do you feel
— I always feel that until you take your last breath
you’re always growing, and that every experience that
you encounter in your life — just all of you being
together here today and being in a room with people
who are like-minded, who share the same vision — all
of that is so stimulating. You leave here and you feel
like you can be better and do better. What has the experience —
or how has the experience of being First Lady
actually grown you? Mrs. Obama: Wow. So many ways. I mean, first of all, there
is absolutely nothing I can’t do, right? (applause) MS. WINFREY: Because
you walk in that — Mrs. Obama: That’s
right, that’s right. MS. WINFREY: You live
in the White House. Mrs. Obama: We’ve been to
the mountain top, and it was a hard climb but we made it. (laughter) We made it! (applause) So you just — again, you
begin to understand how much you can tolerate, how much
growth you can have, how much potential there is, how
much opportunity there is to help people, how
fulfilling it is. I mean, that’s been the
thing that I’ve learned, that MS. WINFREY:
Fulfilling in it. Mrs. Obama: Oh, it feels —
public service — I left the practice of law to go into
public service for selfish reasons. I wanted to be happy and
feel good every single day. I wanted to wake up inspired
and ready to do something greater than myself. And that’s what service and
giving and — that’s what this room means to so many. And I just want to make sure
that when people leave here they don’t go back into
their isolation; that they don’t go back to their
phones, looking down. Because this relationship
isn’t enough. You need to have people
in your lives that you’re connecting with,
that you’re helping. I mean, there is nothing
that makes me feel better than knowing that I helped
to change somebody’s life — Oprah, you know this
more than anyone else. And if you’re doing that
every single day, the haters, the doubters — none
of that matters, because you are getting so much by the
— from the work that you’re doing. MS. WINFREY: Well, you know,
I figured this out — early on in the show I had read
this quote from Dr. King, one of my favorite quotes
from him, that says, “Not everybody can be famous,
but everybody can be great, because greatness is
determined by service.” And I literally shifted — I
used that quote to help me shift the way I saw the
platform of television. Instead of like, oh, I’m
going to — I’m on TV, how do I use that platform as a
platform of service, is what I did. Mrs. Obama: Amen. MS. WINFREY: Yeah. Mrs. Obama: Yeah, we know. And you did that
pretty well too. (laughter and applause) MS. WINFREY: But when yo
think about growing and being empowered yourself, it
is what you’ve been able to do for other people that
leaves you the fullest. Mrs. Obama: Yes, absolutely. That is really the thing. So I don’t know, I don’t
sort of — my growth is incidental. It’s the lucky gift
I get for giving. And, like you said,
I’m still growing. We are all still growing. I used to tell some of the
young people I worked with way back in Chicago days
that I used to hate the question “What do you want
to be when you grow up?” because it assumes that at
some point you stop becoming and you just are something. And that would be a sad
thing to think that this is it. And that’s one of the things
I’ve learned — that there are so many phases to life
that this is just — even as big as being First Lady and
living in the White House has been, this is still just
a portion of a very bigger journey that I have yet
to know the outcome. And I won’t know it
until I’m laying down. It’s just ever-evolving. (applause) And I think that reality —
this experience has helped me to see that. These are just phases. And this has been a very
interesting phase, and a very impactful phase, but
there’s more to come. MS. WINFREY: I love you
saying that — I’m not through. Mrs. Obama: We
ain’t through! (laughter) MS. WINFREY: We
aren’t through! (applause) Okay, so, yes, I
believe in service. I believe in helping people. I want people to feel
fulfilled and empowered in their life. But still, somedays I think
it’s just cool to be me. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: And I think that
too — some days it’s just cool to be Oprah. (laughter) MS. WINFREY: So I want t
know, what are those days when you just say,
mmm, mmm, mmm — (laughter) — look at me in
the White House. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: There are so —
yeah, just sitting up here, mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter) There are a lot
of those moments. Prince and Stevie Wonder
singing in the East Room, just — may he
rest in peace. I mean, those rare gifts of
entertainment, the kind of music we have been able to
bring into the White House. Sitting with the Pope,
watching my mother and my daughters talk to the Pope. That’s like a — MS. WINFREY: Mmm, mmm, mmm. Mrs. Obama: Mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter) Dinner with the Queen of
England, just like, mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter) MS. WINFREY: Mmm, mmm, mmm. Mrs. Obama: You know, you
try to play these moments off, like oh, yes, yes, I
know what I’m doing — and inside you’re going,
mmm, mmm, mmm. MS. WINFREY: Mmm, mmm, mmm. Mrs. Obama: Good lord. Watching my husband walk off
of Marine One and go to the Oval Office, it’s
like, mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter and applause) MS. WINFREY: Mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: And you kno
he’s got that walk, right? MS. WINFREY: I know! (laughter) Mrs. Obama: Like,
mmm, mmm, mmm. MS. WINFREY: He’s
got the swag. (laughter) Did he always
have that swag? Or has he gotten swaggier? Mrs. Obama: No, he
was very swagalicious. (laughter) Look, I told people this
from the very start, when I — started running — Barack
Obama is exactly who he says he is. We both are. That’s what I’ve been
trying to tell people. Ain’t no surprises. We’re telling you who we
are, and no tricks up our sleeves. We’re regular folks. We care about people. We care about family. We want to do well. We want to make
our country proud. We don’t want to waste our
talents just making money for ourselves. Barack Obama hasn’t
changed, not as a person. Because he is an authentic
man who came in, and he’s going to leave
that same person. (applause) So it’s not the office that
changes you, it’s just — it amplifies who you are. I think I said that at
the last convention. Being President doesn’t
change who you are, it reveals who you are. And that’s something that
we should all remember. (applause) MS. WINFREY: This is the
United State of Women. There are a lot of
cool men out here. I love the — Mrs. Obama: Let’s give it up
for the brothers, for the men out here. (applause) MS. WINFREY: There’s a
lot of cool men out here. I love the President’s
speech saying you’re looking at a feminist. What can men do
leaving here? Mrs. Obama: Be better. (laughter and applause) Be better at everything. (applause) Be better fathers. 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. And we’ve talked about this
— the fact that I never experienced abuse at the
hands of any man in my life. And that’s sad to say that
that’s a rare reality. So men can be
better at that. Men can be better husbands,
which is — be a part of your family’s life. Do the dishes. (applause) Don’t babysit your children. You don’t babysit
your own children. (applause) 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 okay with
that — be better. MS. WINFREY: Be better. Mrs. Obama: Be better. MS. WINFREY: Be better. (applause) I love that. Mrs. Obama: Just be better. (laughter and applause) I could go on but I’m not. (laughter) You get the point,
fellas, right? Fellas? (applause) What are you going to be? Audience Members: Better! Mrs. Obama: There you go. MS. WINFREY: There you go. (applause) So here’s the question that
comes up over and over and over — we talked a little
bit about it — this idea of balance. Is that a false
notion for women? Because can we really — are
we ever going to have it all? I used to say you can have
it all you just can’t have it all at one time. Is that a false notion? Mrs. Obama: I am always
irritated by the “you can have it all” statement. And I grew irritated with
that phrase and that expectation the older I got,
as you’re trying to have it all. And you’re beating yourself
up, and feeling less than because you aren’t
having it all. Because it’s a
ridiculous aspiration. MS. WINFREY: Especially if
you’re looking at everybody else’s Facebook page. Mrs. Obama: Oh, god,
everybody has it all. Everybody is lying. They’re lying. (laughter and applause) You all need to stop lying. Be real about the fact that
— no one gets everything. That was one of the first
rules you learned as a little kid. You don’t always
get your way. Come on, people. You don’t always get what
you want all the time. And that’s true in life. So what I’ve told many young
people is that you can have it all, but oftentimes it’s
hard to get it all at the same time. MS. WINFREY: Yeah,
I believe that. Mrs. Obama: So it’s just
a matter of managing expectations. So for me, for example, you
know, when your husband is President of the United
States and you have children, something
has got to give. I’ve made compromises in my
life and my career, but I’ve also, in exchange, gained
a wonderful platform to do some great work. Who would have ever imagined
that we would make the inroads we’ve made on
healthy eating and changing the way our kids
are fed in school? (applause) I can point to so many
things that I’ve had — that I’ve been able to do. If I want to be heavily
involved in my girls’ lives that means that sometimes I
have to put some things on the back burner to give
them what they need. So it’s hard to have it all. But that’s where you go back
to knowing who you are, and knowing that you’re really
living through phases. And if you’re compromising
through one phase of your journey, you’re not
giving it all up, you’re compromising for that phase. There’s another phase that’s
coming up where you might be able to have more of what
you thought you wanted. You get to know yourself
a little bit more. So, no, I don’t want young
women out there to have the expectation that if they’re
not having it all that somehow they’re failing. Life is hard. But life is long if you
maintain your health, which is one of the reasons why
we talk about health, talk about taking
care of yourself. Because you want to get to
the next phases in life where you can do more of
what you want to do at any given time. MS. WINFREY: You want to be
wherever you are right now. And, just like you
say, I’m not through. Mrs. Obama: Mmm hmm. You’re not through. MS. WINFREY: Not through. So 5,000 women and
men in this room. (applause) Thousands and thousands of
others streaming us online — hey. (laughter) Hey, everybody streaming. What is the one thing —
because I think it’s really easy when you come to a
conference like this and you get so inspired and you see
Marley and Mikaila, those young women, and you see
Billie Jean King, and Gloria Steinem, and Shonda Rhimes,
and Kerry Washington. Mrs. Obama: It’s
amazing gathering — MS. WINFREY: You see all
these women and you’re just like, I just want to
be more of a woman! And you’re going to
be overstimulated. (laughter) What is the one thing you
want us to leave here with? What is the one charge
or one offering? What do you want to say? Mrs. Obama: It’s hard
to think of one thing. MS. WINFREY: Okay, a couple. Mrs. Obama: But the
work always continues. And by that I mean
we’re never done. We can never be complacent
and think that we’ve arrived now as women. Because I hear this
from young women. Some of you young women who
aren’t feeling the pains that many of our
predecessors have felt — you think, well, there
aren’t any problems, women’s rights, we’ve got this all
figured out, I’m already equal, I’m good — I’m just
like, oh, just you wait, you’ll feel it. So the work continues. And for all the young women
in this room, all the young men, we can never
be complacent. Because we have seen in
recent times how quickly things can be taken away if
we aren’t vigilant, if we don’t know our history, if
we don’t continue the work. (applause) So my hope is that people
leave here inspired and ready to do something. Again, remember, it’s not
what people say about you, it’s what you do. So the question is what
are you going to do? How are you going
to be better? What are you going to change
in your office, in your life, in your relationships? What are you going to change
in your family dynamic? And how are you going to
empower yourself with the knowledge that you need to
know what work needs to be done? We can’t afford
to be ignorant. We can’t afford
to be complacent. So we have to
continue the work. MS. WINFREY: I think
that’s powerful. Because the question that
you just offered to us is what did this mean, and what
can I do with what I have received from all the
stimulation, all of this energy — what can I do,
that’s the question. You were talking
about the next phase. I heard you say that when
you all are done — we saw your new house
— when you’re — Mrs. Obama: We’re neither
confirming or denying. (laughter) MS. WINFREY: Okay. (laughter) When you all are done —
okay, when you’re done and you move out of the White
House, I’ve heard you say that you look forward to
riding around with the windows down. You’re still going
to be Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama: Yeah, I know. MS. WINFREY: And we’re
going to know who you are. And it won’t matter how many
baseball caps you put on, we’re going to say,
“Hey, Michelle.” Mrs. Obama: “Hey, Michelle.” (laughter) I get that, I see — MS. WINFREY: So what is the
one thing that you think you really want to do? And can we go shopping? Mrs. Obama: Yeah, girl,
let’s go shopping. MS. WINFREY:
Let’s go shopping. Mrs. Obama: You and me. That will be a scene. (laughter) You know, it’s — Audience Member:
— go shopping! Mrs. Obama: What? You want to go
shopping with us? (applause) It’s really the
little things. And you feel this —
fame can be confining. And then you start missing
the little things. What do I want to do? I want to walk out — I
want to open my front door without discussing
it with anyone — (laughter) — and I want to walk out
that door and just walk. (laughter) Just want to walk by myself,
or with a semblance of feeling like I’m by myself,
because that’s what you learn how to do — it’s
like, I’m alone with 800 people walking behind me. (laughter) But I’ve learned how
to — “I’m by myself.” But I do, I want to
walk down a street. I want to sit in a yard that
is not a national park. (laughter) I do want to
drop into Target. I want to — I do, I want
to go to Target again! (laughter) I’ve heard so many things
have changed in Target! (laughter) I tell my friends they’re
going to have to give me a re-entry training for like,
okay, what do you do at CVS now? How do you check out? (laughter) It’s like I’ve been
living in a cave. But it is, it’s the small
things — fresh air. In the White House you
can’t open a window. Sasha opened her window
once — there were calls. (laughter) “Shut the window!” It never opened again. (laughter) So it’s the little
things that you — MS. WINFREY: The things
that we all just take for granted. Mrs. Obama: Take
for granted. I won’t even ask for
anonymity, because I think that’s forever gone. MS. WINFREY: Yes. Mrs. Obama: But one of the
things that I’ve learned is that if you just flow into a
pattern of life with people, they give you
space to come in. That’s happened at my kids’
school and the places where I go and work out. Once people get used to the
fact that you’re going to be there — MS. WINFREY: “It’s
the First Lady!” Mrs. Obama: Then it’s
sort of like it’s over. It’s like you do it a few
times, it’s like “It’s the First Lady.” So I hope to find a way to
seamlessly work my way into a normal life. And it’s going to take time,
but I’m going to slowly — MS. WINFREY: It’s
going to happen. And we’re going
to go shopping. Mrs. Obama: We’re
going to shop! MS. WINFREY: We’re
going to go shopping. And you will leave
here most proud of? Mrs. Obama: You know, truly,
I am most proud of my daughters. (applause) I mean, I could go down the
list of my initiatives, and we have done a lot —
changed the way our kids eat. We’ve supported military
families, we made that conversation part
of the community. The work that we’re doing
on girls’ education will be something that I do for
the rest of my life. This is all work
that will continue. It is there. Those problems won’t be
solved in my lifetime. But raising two girls
— like I said at the beginning, when I sent them
off in the car that first day and they were so little,
and the bulletproof glass was so thick — I thought,
oh, my god, I just want them to grow up feeling a sense
— knowing that they’re loved by us. Feeling confident. Feeling a sense of normalcy,
feeling a sense of obligation to do something
outside of themselves. Just being good people. And we just went to Malia’s
high school graduation, and we’re watching Sasha move
her way through high school. And I am very proud of those
two and how they’ve managed this situation and how
they have continued to be themselves, regular little
girls just trying to figure it out. And as all mothers do, you
breathe that sigh of relief that you didn’t
mess up your kids. And every day I cross my
fingers and hope that I’m doing right by them, and I’m
providing them with a good foundation so that they
can be great people. MS. WINFREY: Thank you. (applause) And I just want to say, the
way you’ve handled this office, the way you carry
yourself, have presented yourself to the United
States of America, and the women of the United States
of America, and men of the United States of America,
reminds me of a line that Maya used to say — it’s
actually in the beginning of one of her books — she says
“You make me proud to spell my name W-O-M-A-N.” (applause) Michelle Obama. And I would like to add
to that: Mmm, mmm, mmm. (laughter) Mrs. Obama: Ms.
Oprah Winfrey! (applause)


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