Michelle Obama Gets Candid About the Importance of Female Friendships

"You were straddling that fence that I so often straddled as the wife of a politician."

becoming an intimate conversation with michelle obama
(Image credit: Paras Griffin)

Michelle Obama opened up about how she first navigated the White House and the importance of the friendships she made during those first months in the fifth episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast. The former first lady sat down with three of her close friends Denielle Pemberton-Heard, Dr. Sharon Malone, and Kelly Dibble to have the ultimate power chat.

Dr. Malone, who previously was on Obama's podcast to discuss the importance of women's reproductive health, spoke about the first time she was invited to lunch with her. "You were staying at the Hay Adams, and I get this call, and someone says, 'Uh, I'm whatever, and I'm from Mrs. Obama's staff,' and I was like what? And she says, 'Would you like to have lunch,' and I was like, 'I think I can make that work.'"

The two have a friendship going back to Obama's early White House days. Dr. Malone is married to former Attorney General Eric Holder, who served during Barack Obama's presidency and ultimately was an inspiration to her during her time in Washington.

Obama explained to her friend that those lunches helped her "understand Washington," but when she met Dr. Malone, something clicked, saying that when they finally met up for lunch Obama felt strongly towards her new friend remarking, "it was just like, this is another me."

"You had been in this world for so much longer than I had been, and you were a professional in your own right," said Obama. "And that was something that I saw, I was like okay this is a woman who still has a career, who is raising kids, whose husband is a big deal, but she's an even bigger deal, in her own right."

The Becoming author detailed how inspired she was by her new friend, saying, "What really drew me to you is just your attitude, about this place, you were unimpressed, but you cared deeply. It was that you were straddling that fence that I so often straddled as the wife of a politician, in a world, where women are just sort of, uh, accessories. You were not an accessory."

Uh, friendship goals much? You can catch a preview of the episode below and tune in tomorrow to listen to the full episode when it goes live on Spotify.


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(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. In addition to spearheading commerce content across brands—from writing about wardrobe must-haves and sales at major retailers to strategizing—she is also an avid reader with a deep love and knowledge for books of all genres. More often than not, you can find her lounging with a good book on the weekend.