Former first lady Michelle Obama said Americans were "not ready" for her natural hair during her husband's presidency. She claimed that Americans were still "getting adjusted" to the idea of having a black family in the White House.
Obama is currently on a nationwide tour to promote her new book that claims to offer "practical wisdom and powerful strategies for staying hopeful and balanced in today’s highly uncertain world." Obama, 58, said her third book was her "little COVID project."
Moderators for the tour include Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Tracee Ellis Ross, David Letterman, and Ellen DeGeneres. The book tour kicked off at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night, and was hosted by DeGeneres. This was the first major appearance for her since ending her longtime talk show in May.
Obama stated, "I didn't wear braids."
She said regarding wearing her hair in braids, "I was like, 'They're just getting adjusted (to the first black first family).' It would be easier. But they're not ready for it."
Michelle Obama claimed that critics would have reacted harshly to her natural hairstyle. "It would have been, 'Remember when she wore braids? Those are terrorist braids. Those are revolutionary braids.'"
She added, "So let me just keep my hair straight, let's get health care passed."
Obama contended, "I would get my staff all worried, too. I was like, 'I was thinking about getting braids.'"
She continued, "We deal with it – the whole thing about, ‘Do you show up with your natural hair?’”
"Braids, ya’ll," Obama shouted – which caused the crowd to cheer.
Obama alleged, "That’s the African-American experience, but women in offices that are worried, ‘Should I wear skirts? Should I wear pantyhose?’ I hate pantyhose. But when you’re carrying all this other stuff, this mask, these differences and you’re trying to do your job, it’s just an extra burden on overcoming."
"They tripped out when Barack wore a tan suit," Michelle said, then laughingly added, "The great indignity, the scandal of the Obama administration."
Obama's book tour began on the same day as former President Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential run. While not mentioning Trump by name, Obama reportedly looked back at the "painful" memories of the 2016 election.
"You don’t want to make this personal, but as I write in the book, it hurt," she told the audience, according to The Hill. "It hurt because you wonder was it a rebuke of the eight years, the sacrifice we made? Was it complacency? What was it?"
Obama added, "We sacrificed a lot to make that set of changes, and because not enough people voted, that was that."
She said of Trump, "I mean, if you — if you guys recall, I said, 'Don’t vote for this guy.'"
"People need jobs, they need housing, they need to feel like they can get ahead, they need to feel like they have a stake in this world and then they won’t tear it apart," she said. "They won’t tear it apart with racism, or with violence, or with crime because it’s theirs."