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The Meaning of Michelle

16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own

Veronica Chambers


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ISBN10: 1250160235
ISBN13: 9781250160232

Trade Paperback

240 Pages



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Michelle Obama is unlike any other First Lady in American History. From her first moments on the public stage, she has challenged traditional American notions about what it means to be beautiful, to be strong, to be fashion-conscious, to be healthy, to be First Mom, to be a caretaker and hostess, and to be partner to the most powerful man in the world. What is remarkable is that, at 52, she is just getting started.

While many books have looked at Michelle Obama from a fashion perspective, no book has fully explored what she means to our culture. The Meaning of Michelle does just that, while offering a parting gift to a landmark moment in American history. In addition to a tribute to Michelle Obama, this book is also a rollicking, lively dinner party conversation about race, class, marriage, creativity, womanhood and what it means to be American today.

Contributors include: Ava DuVernay, Veronica Chambers, Benilde Little, Damon Young, Alicia Hall Moran and Jason Moran, Brittney Cooper, Ylonda Gault Caviness, Chirlane McCray, Cathi Hanauer, Tiffany Dufu, Tanisha Ford, Marcus Samuelsson, Sarah Lewis, Karen Hill Anton, Rebecca Carroll, Phillipa Soo, and Roxane Gay


Praise for The Meaning of Michelle

"Sixteen writers . . . share what it’s been like to witness Michelle Obama in the White House. 'Witness' is the correct word. The first thing most writers admit is that they've been unable to take their eyes off her."The New York Times

"A series of thoughtful meditations on the complexities of the woman who is both partner to the leader of the free world and a powerful American figure in her own right. The Obama in these pages is both an icon and a homegirl. The writers take her seriously yet still write about her playfully."The Washington Post

"A marvelous collection that taps into the love—not just admiration, though that's certainly there; not just respect, though it's there too—so many Americans have for the South Side girl-turned-Washington royalty."Chicago Tribune

"All the essays stand out as each writer stands up and attests to the ways in which Michelle Obama has defied stereotypes and pushed forward a vision and version of Black women that have always been there, but have often gone unacknowledged."Essence

"Features 16 essays about the First Lady and the impact she's had on the U.S., with 'Hamilton' alum Phillipa Soo and writer Roxane Gay among those sharing their insights."The Hollywood Reporter

"[A] timely homage to forever first lady Michelle Obama."The Huffington Post

"A diverse collection united by admiration in a 'praise song' anthology."BookPage

"The variety of contributors allows for different perspectives on their common subject—as a fashion icon, a cultural arbiter, the self-proclaimed 'mom-in-chief,' partner in a mutual girl crush with Beyoncé, fitness and food advocate, and a wife who supports but does not defer."Kirkus Reviews

"Gratitude resonates through each offering in this compilation, a warm tribute to an inspiring woman of color who has lived in the public eye for more than eight years."Publisher's Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Introduction: Homegirls



Barack Obama’s historic run for presidency coincided directly with me becoming a mother. I came back to the United States after a year...

About the author

Veronica Chambers

VERONICA CHAMBERS is a prolific writer and the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Mama’s Girl. A contributor to several anthologies, including the bestselling Bitch in the House, she’s been a senior editor at the New York Times Magazine, Glamour, and Newsweek. She is currently a JSK Knight Fellow at Stanford.

Béatrice de Géa

Read articles by the Author on New York Times