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Michelle Obama: the key message behind her words around retiring from public life

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Hollie Richardson
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Michelle Obama

There’s a lesson we could all do with remembering in Michelle Obama’s words about “working towards retirement”. 

Michelle Obama might have left the White House four years ago, but the former First Lady has only continued to campaign for women’s rights ever since. Obama is a key figure in activism around sexism and racism, and she always shares the best life advice

It’s little wonder that Obama’s autobiography, Becoming, is a bestseller found on most people’s bookshelves. She also released a hit Netflix documentary of the same name. And when she released her first Spotify series, The Michelle Obama Podcast, everybody tuned in.

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Most recently, Obama was a key voice in the Joe Biden campaign in the 2020 US election. Her culture and cooking show for kids, Waffles + Mochi, is also currently streaming on Netflix, and is surprisingly comforting for adult viewers. And she has signed on to work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to help provide food for families.

So it might come as a surprise, and rather sad news, that Obama has talked about retiring from the public eye. But, in her on-brand way of doing things, her words around the issue were inspirational and positive.

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“I’ve been telling my daughters I’m moving toward retirement right now, [selectively] picking projects and chasing summer,” Obama said in an interview with People this week. “Barack and I never want to experience winter again.”

She added: “We’re building the foundation for somebody else to continue the work so we can retire and be with each other – and Barack can golf too much, and I can tease him about golfing too much because he’s got nothing else to do.”

A poignant scene from Michelle Obama’s Becoming
A poignant scene from Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

However, Obama acknowledged that there is still “work to be done” before she and the former president can pass the reins over to the next generation of activists.

“We breathe for a moment, but there’s still work to be done,” she said, referring to the racial injustice in America. “That’s why Barack and I are focused on developing the next generation of leaders through the Obama Foundation… so that each year we step further out of the spotlight and make room for them.”

It’s such an important reminder that so many of the things we are all doing right now are to ensure a better and fairer future for the next generation. And, while we always love seeing what Obama does next, we’re pretty sure she’s earned her retirement. 

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…