Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ is the inspirational story of how a working-class girl from the South Side of Chicago came to have such an influence in US politics. Although some may think that her influence came from the sheer luck of marrying the man who would become President of the United States, this would, in fact, be taking away the credit from a strong-minded woman who hoped to make a change to the world years before meeting her future husband.
While of course, she was lucky to have gained such an influence, it was what she chose to do with this power, and how she sought to bring change to the lives of young women and people of colour, that fascinated me throughout her autobiography and demonstrated that even if she hadn’t met Barack, or if he hadn’t run for President, I am confident that she still would have helped those in need.
Despite coming from what is viewed as a disadvantaged background, Michelle Obama attended two Ivy League Universities – Princeton and Harvard. However, while this is at first viewed like a dream come true, she does not shy away from describing the many prejudices that she faced while attending such prestigious institutions.
Whether it was the fact that her roommate moved out on the basis that her parents didn’t want her to share a dormitory with an African-American, or the constant descriptions of what it felt like to be the only African-American girl in the room, Michelle Obama demonstrates the realities of attending an Ivy League University when coming from a background such as hers, and, if the reader can’t relate to these feelings, it makes them realise the privilege that they are lucky to have.
Although she clearly illustrates the benefits of her position as First Lady, she doesn’t fail to describe the inconveniences that it would also bring to her everyday life. For example, she was often unable to be a supportive mother to her daughters at school events, as everywhere she went she would have to be escorted by a security team, and also knew that her presence took away the spotlight from her daughters as she was crowded by other parents who wanted to take photos or talk with her.
When arranging a dinner date with her husband, the security team had to shut down almost all of Manhattan just to make sure the Obamas had a safe getaway in case of an emergency. This is a side of Presidency that I have never really considered before and was one of the reasons why Michelle Obama initially wasn’t on board with it – the impact that it would have on the idea of ‘normal’ that her children were brought up with.