President Obama and Misty Copeland Have a Candid Discussion About Race and Body Image

"As the father of two daughters, one of the things I'm always looking for are strong women who are out there breaking barriers and doing great stuff."

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President Obama and history-making ballerina Misty Copeland admire the hell out of each other—that fact is very clear in a new video conversation with TIME's Maya Rhodan. But the two, while discussing race, body image, and the rise to leadership, are also amazingly committed to questioning each other on the sides that they take—hoping to illuminate their own struggles but also give a better idea of where they stand. 

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Obama admits he hasn't been as in tune with the pressures women face—especially for women of color. "When you're a dad of two daughters, you notice more," he says. "And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women."

Copeland agrees, and is hopeful that her presence and appearance might inspire others  to have a "stronger sense of self" and embrace their own beauty. "I didn't want to pancake my skin a lighter color to fit into the ballet. I wanted to be myself," she says. "I didn't want to have to wear makeup that made my nose look thinner."

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What are the legacies they hope to leave? "My view is that the strength of having been a minority on the receiving end of discrimination is that it should make you that much more attuned and empathetic towards anybody who's vulnerable. Towards anybody who's being locked out," Obama says. "So what I say to my kids is use this as something that provides you a particular power to be willing to fight on behalf of what you think is right."

Suffice it to say, everyone's a little better off with role models like these. Watch the video over at TIME.

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