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The First Lady of the United States

The First Lady of the United States is an unofficial position held by the wife of the country’s president for the time he is in power. She plays a figurative role in the political and social representation of the president and the White House. Though not directly elected, the First Lady is tied and identified with the president during campaign and after entry into office. Therefore, she is considered a crucial representation in the presidency. She also assumes her own initiatives which she are mostly in the realm of social improvement. This participation may be traced back to the leadership being provided by the president himself. In most cases, the role of the latter and the perception of his relationship and leadership over his wife and immediate family is translated and projected as an indicator of his ability in national leadership (Swain, 2015).


The First Lady is only accountable to the president on a very personal basis. Therefore, the latter always makes sure that operations of the former are aimed at promoting his agenda. Historically, the position has created various standards on fashion, etiquette, and communication. First Ladies are responsible for overseeing White House reception, hosting, and accommodation for different groups of guests (Swain, 2015). Over years, the position has become an example of female power and elegance. The holder of this office is often followed closely for proper fashion notions and etiquette especially during communications and interactions. Furthermore, she influences legislation on women’s issues both directly and indirectly.

Moreover, in special occasions, the First Lady may exhibit a high level of local popularity and therefore boost the political relevance of the president before and after he assumes office.  Even though the First Lady is unpaid, she must juggle image responsibilities, White House hosting, social mission, and family obligations (Swain, 2015).

Michelle Obama has been the U.S. First Lady since Barack Obama took office in 2009 as the 44th American president and the first African-American holder of the office. She was born in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois (Colbert, 2008). Michelle and her brother were pushed to exemplary academic excellence by their parents, both graduating from high school and joining Princeton University where the former majored in Sociology Studies. She proceeded to Harvard School of Law and earned her Juris Doctor Degree in 1988. She joined a Chicago law firm where she worked as a junior associate, and this is where she met Barrack Obama (Truman 1996). They got engaged two years later and got married in 1992.

Later on, Michelle made a permanent transition to public service becoming an assistant commissioner in the Mayor Sate Office. Shortly afterwards she was made one of the head directors of the Chicago Public Allies, a youth leadership program. It was during this period that she developed political connections that helped her husband during his early political career. Obama’s run for Illinois Senator in 1996 prompted her to use her connections and knowledge to organize fundraising events, collect signatures, and grow support amongst political influencers in the state (Slovan, 2015).

Michelle’s career continued to soar despite the new challenge they faced of balancing between her husband’s newly attained position and bringing up their two daughters Malia and Sasha who were born in 1998 and 2001 respectively. She rose to the position of executive director of relations and external matters for the University of Chicago Hospitals, and was subsequently promoted to become vice-president and later on a board member.

Michelle remained active in her husband’s presidential aspirations and was particularly instrumental in his campaign prior to his victory in 2008. She portrayed the image of family women with close-knit family values that prioritized discipline, love, respect and social values (Slevin, 2015). During her tenure as First Lady, she successfully started and managed four initiatives that focused on women, education and community living. One of them, Let’s Move, was launched in 2010 to address the problem of child obesity (Slovan 2015). It encouraged community leaders, medical practitioners, and parents to provide healthier nutrition and physical activity among children. In 2011, she joined forces with Dr. Jill Biden to launch Joining Forces, a national support program for veterans and their families for their service to the country. This initiative implements systems that involve both the private and public sector to promote the lives of veterans and their families for sustainable and efficient living.

Moreover, in 2014, she launched the Reach Higher initiative that aimed to push the youth to take charge of their higher education after graduating from high school. It requires them to prioritize tertiary education at whatever level as a pre-requisite to knowledge, relevance and stability (Colbert 2008). In 2015, the First Lady joined Let Girls Learn as a joint effort with president Obama to help girls worldwide acquire quality education. She called on world leaders to facilitate women empowerment by inspiring and even financing the girl child’s education.

Evidently, Michelle Obama has made a swift but steady adjustment to the role and position of First Lady. She initially faced great pressure to create her own agenda that was different but parallel to Obama’s and his party’s goals. She also faced the challenge of great expectation and uncertainty considering that she was the first African American First Lady.  Nevertheless, she has emerged as an influential First Lady who has promoted both the president’s and her own social improvement agenda. She has particularly been singled out for the importance she has maintained for her family and especially her children and similarly, for her passionate advocacy for the empowerment of women. Additionally, she has received a lot of praise for her fashion sense and communication skills throughout Obama’s term. She will go down in history as one of the most influential First Ladies in America and the first African American holder of the office.


Colbert, D. (2008). Michelle Obama: An American Story. Boston, MA: HMH books.

Slevin, P. (2015). Michelle Obama: A Life. New York, NY: Knopf.

Swain, S. (2015). First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

Truman, M. (1996). First Ladies: An Intimate Group of WhiteHouse housewives. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

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