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‘That Stuff Hurts’: Michelle Obama Opens Up About the Body-Shaming She Endured as First Lady

Former first lady Michelle Obama, who has been on the receiving end of some harsh criticism over the years about her body, says it’s “ridiculous” for people to think anyone’s youthful looks will remain the same as they grow older.

Obama, 56, imparted wisdom to a captive crowd during Oprah Winfrey’s “2020 Vision” tour, about how she wrestles with ageism and the constant body-shaming attacks from people, according to People.

“We are so ridiculous as women,” she told the crowd at the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, New York.

Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey during Oprah’s “2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus” tour at Barclays Center on Feb. 8, 2020, in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

“We don’t want to talk about our age, and then we want to act like we should look like we did when we were 20, you know? When, I’m sorry, men you can look any kind of way. And it seems to be OK,” she said.

Obama opened up about the body-shaming she endured and the barrage of attacks and critiques of her butt and chiseled arms while in the White House and on the campaign trail with her husband former President Barack Obama. Many of those vicious attacks, in fact, came from conservatives.

“People called me all kinds of things when I was campaigning for Barack, like it was a competition,” she said.

“They called me un-American, and this stuff sticks with you. Men talked about the size of my butt. There are people who were telling me I was angry. That stuff hurts, and it makes you sort of wonder, what are people seeing? That stuff is there. And look, I’m a Black woman in America. And you know, we’re not always made to feel beautiful. So, there’s still that baggage that we carry, and not everyone can relate to that.”

Obama has been the butt of rude, sexist and racist comments about her physical looks or appearance from all quarters of right-wing America.

Conservatives like Virginia voter Bobbie Lussier didn’t mind telling a national news radio program Obama doesn’t look like a first lady.

Controversial radio host Rush Limbaugh, who just received a Medal of Freedom from President Trump, went into a nasty tirade against the first lady after she launched the Let’s Move campaign in 2010, saying she “weighs too much to care about health.”

“The problem is — and dare I say this — it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritional, dietary advice. And then we hear that she’s out eating ribs at 1,500 calories a serving with 141 grams of fat per serving, yeah it does — what do you mean, what do I mean?”

Pamela Ramsey Taylor, director of Clay County Development Corp. of Clay, West Virginia, characterized Obama as an “ape in heels.” Taylor was later fired, arrested and convicted after swindling FEMA of thousands.

And there were numerous gorilla face references hurled at Obama, including one from Patrick Rushing, the former mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, who ultimately resigned following an outcry over his comments. He also called Obama’s husband, “monkey man.”

And another gorilla comment came from a Georgia schoolteacher Jane Wood Allen, who called Obama a “poor gorilla” who “needs to focus on getting a total makeover (especially the hair), instead of planning vacations.”

The “Becoming” author said, despite the hurtful rhetoric, after many years she has come to love her body and will do what’s necessary to stay healthy.

“I try hard not to judge it,” she said. “And it’s different. You have to get to know your body, because what this body is at 56 — I can’t do the things I did when I was 36. It’s not the same body. We are living things. We’re not machines. You know, we run out of gas. We need fuel. We need sunshine and light. We need to take care of ourselves and when you don’t, as you get older, just like any living thing it begins to fail on you. And for me, I’m trying to figure out, what is that balance that I need to make sure that this body, that God gave me, that I’m taking care of it the best that I can and that it will serve me well as I get older.”

The 2020 Vision Tour is in partnership with Weight Watchers Reimagined.

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