1. Michelle was Barack’s mentor during his summer job at a Chicago law firm. Even though he had arrived from Harvard Law School with a great reputation, he turned up late. “In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent black man and white people tended to go bonkers. I was doubtful he’d earned the hype,” she speculated.
2. Though they got on well, she hated his smoking and didn’t consider him as marriage material at first. As time went on however; “the tension lay thick in the air between us, like something inevitable or predestined was finally about to happen”.
3. Despite initial doubts, she eventually came around to building a life with her now husband: “Any worries I’d been harbouring about my life and career, and even about Barack himself, seemed to fall away with that first kiss, replaced by a driving need to know him better, to explore and experience everything about him as fast as I could.”
4. Barack had communicated to Michelle early on that marriage “struck him as an unnecessary and overhyped convention”. After a heated discussion on the matter in a restaurant one day, she lifted the lid of her dinner plate to find a diamond ring (swoon!).
5. She suffered a miscarriage, which was “lonely, painful, and demoralising almost on a cellular level”. She sought IVF treatment when Barack was away in Springfield, Illinois, where he was then a state senator. “I sensed already that the sacrifices would be more mine than his,” she laments.
6. She describes Barack’s time-keeping (or lack thereof) as a “straight-up aggravation” in their marriage. They went to couple's therapy as a result and she began to take more control of her own happiness. Her mother came round in the early morning hours to help look after the girls and Michelle set strict dinner and bed times regardless of whether Barack was there or not. She wanted her children to grow up “un-accommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy”.
7. Michelle had never really wanted her husband to run for office, saying: “I didn’t much appreciate politicians and therefore didn’t relish the idea of my husband becoming one.”
8. Once in the limelight, she found the fascination from the press and public with what she wore to be incredibly annoying. “It seemed that my clothes mattered more to people than anything I had to say,” Michelle wrote. She discovered though, that she could exploit the interest of people reading magazines exclusively to see her outfits, so that they might read beyond that about issues that truly mattered to her. She knew she’d be criticised for dressing too luxuriously; “So I mixed it up. I wore something from Target one day and Diane Von Furstenberg the next," she said.
9. When Barack and Michelle got out of the car to walk to his inauguration parade, their daughters Malia and Sasha broke out into a tickling fight in the back of the limo while Beyoncé blasted through the stereo.
10. The grandeur of the White House was overwhelming for Michelle initially. She describes there being a Monet hanging outside her bedroom and a Degas in the dining room. “I was a child of the South Side, now raising daughters who slept in rooms designed by by a high-end interior decorator and who could custom order their breakfast from a chef . . . It gave me a kind of vertigo.”
Becoming by Michelle Obama is available to buy at Kinokuniya, The Dubai Mall.
Press play to watch Yasmine Sabri behind the scenes of our November 2018 issue.