Michelle Obama Keeps It Real

The chic, shoot-from-the-hip newcomer talks about her critics, her life in the media whirl, and Wal-Mart vs. Target.

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Michelle Obama wore a gown designed by Jason Wu to the Inaugural Ball SEE OTHER GOWNS BY JASON WU HERE

She's been called everything from Barack's better half to his bitter half. Critics tsk-tsk her for being too blunt and, more recently, for seeming too soft. Feminists say she shouldn't sideline her career to focus on her husband's job, while fans call her the strength behind the historic president. So how does Michelle Obama cope? With a little help from Beyoncé, natch....

Marie Claire: You've said that when Barack is elected, you'll become "mom-in-chief" in the White House. What does that mean, exactly?

Michelle Obama:

MC: How have your girls been affected already by life in the public eye?

MO:

MC: Barack said that you and he regretted going on Access Hollywood with your daughters. Why did you do it?

MO:

MC: How do you handle massive stress? Do you ever have meltdowns?

MO:

MC: So, what's on your iPod?

MO:

MC: How do you deal with all the women swooning over your husband? Obama Girl, Scarlett Johansson — even New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd compares him to Jane Austen's hero Mr. Darcy.

MO:

MC: Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen has advised Barack to head to Wal-Mart to connect with the "Wal-Mart women" who supported Hillary. What do you say to people who think your husband is too slick or elite for working-class voters?

MO:

MC: Do you shop at Wal-Mart?

MO:

MC: How does it feel to be a media target? Do you feel picked on?

MO:

MC: What do you think of John McCain's claim that Barack is a celebrity like Britney and Paris?

MO:

MC: You've complained about the cost of summer camp, when your household income was $4.2 million last year. Do you think you can relate to moms who can't pay their mortgage?

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MO:

MC: What do you think of Sarah Palin?

MO:

MC: You've said your best accessory is Barack on your arm. What's second best?

MO:

MC: Are you much of a heels gal?

MO:

MC: Has your style had to change as you've taken on the role of president's wife? More pearls and Jackie O. dresses?

MO:

MC: What's your guilty pleasure?

MO:

MC: Tell me about your roundtables with wives of soldiers overseas.

MO:

MC: What sparked your interest in wives of soldiers?

MO:

MC: Your mom has said you've never phoned her in tears. What does make you cry?

MO:

MC: Anything in particular they've said or done recently that really got to you?

MO:

MC: What have you learned from other moms in the White House?

MO:

MC: You grew up in a humble family in Chicago and later wrote a college thesis about black women at Princeton. How do you raise your daughters to prepare them for innate racial or gender prejudices?

MO:

MC: You're used to speaking your mind. Do you have to self-censor now so it doesn't look like you're telling your husband what to do?

MO:

MC: Workplace romance is fraught with peril, but you and Barack met on the job at a law firm. How'd you make that work?

MO:

MC: When you become first lady, are you going to go clubbing with France's first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy?

MO:

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