The former First Lady Of The United States Michelle Obama has recently made her debut as a podcast host. ‘The most admired woman in the world’ hosts her near and dear ones to address tough subjects like racism, community, body image and more with personal anecdotes.
In her podcast, Obama’s views are fairly optimistic while acknowledging the current state of world affairs. In the latest edition of Michelle Obama Podcast, she spoke to her brother about his first impression of Barack Obama, their favorite jazz music and growing up. Previously she even opened up about her own struggles and experiences with menopause and changing hormones.
Watch: The Michelle Obama Podcast: Teaser
What Makes A Happy Woman
“Do you know a woman who’s happy with herself?” asks Michelle Obama in the third episode of her podcast. Pondering on the question, the former first lady shares a laugh, as a long-time friend, obstetrician/ gynecologist Dr Sharon Malone, is unable to cite a name off the top of her head. The featured guest in this episode, Washington DC-based Malone says, “We’re always trying to fix or tweak something,” as Obama joins her, “Yeah, and how exhausting is that?”
Menopause, menstrual cramps, perception of weight and the ageing process, men’s limited understanding of female bodies and, amidst it all, women’s self-image…these are the focus of Michelle Obama’s latest podcast on Spotify.
Produced collaboratively by Spotify and Higher Ground, the production company founded by the Obamas, the eponymous podcast series covers a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from politics and race relations to health and image issues. Launched in July 2020, the audio cast features a series of candid conversations between Michelle Obama and friends and family who appear as guests on the show.
Childhood, community, race relations and depression
The first episode, featuring her husband, former President Barack Obama, focused on their individual childhoods and neighborhood communities, their differing paths but shared values as well as race-relations and their belief in the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the second episode, the former FLOTUS spoke of experiencing ‘low-grade depression’ due to the pandemic and ongoing issues in race relations. As she was flooded with messages, she responded on Instagram reassuring her over 40 million followers:
I just wanted to check in with you all because a lot of you have been checking in on me after hearing this week’s podcast. First things first—I’m doing just fine. There’s no reason to worry about me.
Addressing Taboos Around Women’s Health and Hormones
In the third episode, titled What Your Mother Never Told You About Health With Dr Sharon Malone, the two women engage in a serious and intimate discussion about the need to change cultural norms and hold open, honest conversations about women’s health, the relationship women have with their bodies, experiencing hot flashes and men’s perspective on these struggles women face.
The former first lady draws from her own experiences again in this podcast, narrating an incident where she had a hot flash while on the presidential helicopter Marine One, she recalls “It was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high.”…“And then everything started melting. And I thought, ‘Well this is crazy, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do this.’”
She goes on to say, “What a woman’s body is taking her through is important information. It’s an important thing to take up space in a society, because half of us are going through this but we’re living like it’s not happening.”
Michelle Obama also speaks about how her unflustered husband, President Obama, dealt with it in his usual calm manner. She recalls that he had been “surrounded by women in his cabinet, many going through menopause and he could see it, he could see it in somebody because sweat would start pouring, and he’s like, ‘Well, what’s going on.’ “He didn’t fall apart… It was just sort of like, ‘Oh, well, turn the air-conditioner on.’”
Trivia: Are you a hardcore Feminist?
Responding to Dr Malone, who spoke about allowing herself the freedom to say “Yes” or “No” as she herself deemed fit at 60 years of age, Michelle Obama pointed to this freedom being availed by men at 20. Men, she says, “adopt that philosophy much earlier in their lives,” while, “it takes us until we’re 50 or 60 to feel free enough, physically and emotionally, to be able to say I’m going to think about what I want and say yes and no to the things that bring me joy or turn me off. It takes us a lifetime to get there.”
“The most admired woman in the world”, according to a 2019 Gallop poll, Michelle Obama draws attention to men’s poor understanding of female body functions and to how hormones impact a woman’s body. She also insists that women must stop feeling ashamed of their bodies as they age. Obama gets quite candid in her description of menstrual pain and speaks passionately about how women are expected to simply carry on with their lives through intense discomfort.
Watch: Michelle Obama Gets Candid About Experiencing Menopause
“How many men, do you think, could deal with the severest form of cramps,” Obama wonders, and goes on to describe them as feeling like “a knife being stabbed, and turned and then released. And then turned! And then released.” She then speaks about the fact that women with such severe cramps often have to suffer through them and continue on without complaining about their agony.
While describing the pain of cramps, Obama honestly shares her experiences about fluctuations of her hormones right through the course of her life. She acknowledges being a hormone taker and speaks about “experiencing hormone shifts because of infertility, having to take shots and all that.”
She goes on to underline, “When you think of all that a woman’s body has to do over the course of her lifetime, going from being prepared to give birth to actually giving birth, and then having that whole reproductive system shut down in menopause, right? The changes, the highs and lows, and the hormonal shifts, there is power in that.” She adds passionately, “But we were taught to be ashamed of it and to not even seek to understand it or explore it for our own edification, let alone to help the next generation.”
Described by Financial Times “as entirely worth your time”, Michelle Obama’s audio venture makes an engaging listen. This latest creative venture, following her bestselling memoir and a documentary series on Netflix by the same name (Becoming), promises to bring real and meaningful relationships and conversations on topical social issues. Upcoming guests on this eponymous podcast series will include more of her inner circle of family and friends– including her mother and brother, late-night host Conan O’Brien, and top Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett amongst others.
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