President Obama never misses an opportunity to express his love for Michelle Obama and his interview for the September issue of Ladies’ Home Journal is no different.
The couple recently sat down with the magazine to discuss women in leadership positions, as well as Michelle’s most endearing qualities.
Ladies’ Home Journal: How can we get more women to be leaders, whether in Washington or on their home turf?
Michelle Obama: We have to start with them while they’re young and instill in girls a sense of confidence. That’s why sports are so important. They teach you how to compete — how to fall down and get back up. And there are organizations like the Girl Scouts: They nurture self-confidence and give girls the chance to practice being in charge. We’ve got to give young women the opportunities to be leaders.
President Obama: It’s easier for boys to imagine themselves being President. They see themselves as being in charge. Girls are socialized to think about other people more. I want Malia and Sasha to feel confident about expressing their opinions. And if they’re good at something I want them to have the confidence to step up and shine. I don’t want them to lose their empathy and stop thinking about other people, because that’s an important part of leadership, too. But I don’t want them to be wallflowers.
MO: We talk about this a lot, obviously. But it’s not just about what we want for our girls…we also think about the girls who grew up like we grew up: in working-class neighborhoods where they didn’t have sports programs. Or in a single-parent home. They need to be encouraged, too. Choices and options shouldn’t be limited to…
PO: …folks of a certain income bracket.
LHJ: Do you think we are missing out by not having more women in office?
PO: I think voters are hungry for women’s leadership. I think they recognize that women oftentimes have a more well rounded view of what American families are going through. I think they trust women candidates, and women leaders, to do the right thing, as opposed to being in it because of blind ambition. My hope is that each successive generation sees more and more women taking the risk.
LHJ: Mr. President, what is it about your wife that makes people sit up and listen to her?
PO: Well, she’s very smart. She’s a wonderful speaker. She’s very cute.
MO: Thanks for this question. I wanted to see what he had to say [laughs].
PO: Having said all those things, the quality I love most about her is, she’s honest and genuine. I think that comes across to people. They get a sense that they can trust her. You know, the word “authenticity” is overused these days. But I do think it captures what folks are looking for — not just in leaders, but also in friends and in coworkers — and that is, folks who are on the level. People like that tell you what they think and don’t have a bunch of hidden motives. That’s who Michelle is. She’s also funny. She’s the funniest person in our family.
The First Lady will take her humor back to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Aug. 13; she will be making her third appearance to discuss the London Olympics and life with Obama and their girls at the White House.