Michelle Obama opened up about her struggle with self-love in her new book, The Light We Carry.
In an interview with People to promote her book, Obama discussed obsessing over perceived flaws in her looks, menopause and her experience with hormone replacement therapy.
Obama noted there isn’t enough discussion about menopause. As a result, a lot of women don’t know what to expect when they experience the change.
“There is not a lot of conversation about menopause,” Obama said. “I’m going through it, and I know all of my friends are going through it. And the information is sparse.”
“I’ve had to work with hormones, and that’s new information that we’re learning,” she added. “Before there were studies that said that hormones were bad. That’s all we heard. Now we’re finding out research is showing that those studies weren’t fully complete and that there are benefits to hormone replacement therapy. You’re trying to sort through the information and the studies and the misinformation. So I’m right there.”
“These days I try to practice being kind,” she said. “I try it because it is a practice, especially as women. There are societal signals all around us telling us that there is something wrong with some part of us. We’re supposed to age gracefully. We’re supposed to be the same shape that we were when we were in our 20s after giving birth to two, three kids. That we’re not supposed to go gray. Our face isn’t supposed to wrinkle. I mean, it’s not in our heads. These messages are coming in. They’ve been coming in our whole lives. So the notion that we aren’t affected by it and that I am not affected by it, that’s laughable. I absolutely am.”
“I thought about, what are the messages that I’m giving myself every day, and how do I reverse that trend?” she explained. “How do I light up for myself first? So today when I’m looking at the mirror, I still see what’s wrong, but I try to push those thoughts out and say, ‘Wow, you are healthy. Look at your skin. Look how happy you look, your smile.’ I try to find the things about me that I love and start my day a little more kind. And that’s just a small simple tool. It doesn’t require a gym membership. It doesn’t require anybody else.”
Obama said she tries being kinder to herself and practicing self-love. But self-doubt is an ongoing struggle, even when she receives positive affirmation from loved ones.
“I get so many affirmations from my husband on a daily basis: ‘You’re beautiful. You’re great. You’re smart,’ but sometimes you block those out, right?” she said. “I mean, that’s the battle that I am living with. A man who loves me dearly, who thinks that the sun rises and sets [on me], and he is clear and vocal about that. I get that affirmation every day, but I have to be honest that sometimes that isn’t enough. Because in the end, the messages have to come from me. I have to believe it myself.”
Obama shared her message for young people: “You gotta do that work on your own. You gotta love yourself. You gotta practice that before you can believe it in other people when they tell you.”