Michelle Obama gives an exit interview like no other in her final Vogue feature as America's first lady. The magazine's December issue is Obama's third cover—she graced the glossy in 2009 and 2013—and this time, she reflects on her eight years in the White House and how she chose to spend her time as FLOTUS.
"Everything we do is by choice," she states in the interview. "I could have spent eight years doing anything, and at some level, it would have been fine." However, just anything never would have been good enough for the Princeton grad and Harvard-educated lawyer, who devoted her time in the Oval Office to issues that ranged from healthy eating to military family support to education. During the second term, she launched two education initiatives: Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn.
Despite her worldwide influence, Obama continues to be grounded in awe of her impact on others, rising to her role with an unwavering sense of responsibility. "Kids are watching us," she notes, "I experience it every single day. They hang on my every word, what I wear, what I say." Though many are sad to see her go, she addresses the end of the President Obama era as a logical cycle of democracy, noting that two terms, or eight years, is enough "because it's important to have one foot in reality when you have access to this kind of power."
While we've all witnessed her ability to move spectators within a room and far beyond with her powerful words and presence, a lucky few are able to also witness that magnetism firsthand. "I always touch people," she says, hoping to do away with formality that can cause nervousness, she says she tries to "physically hold them and bring them down and say: 'We're here. I'm just Michelle."
In addition to the wise words she shares within the feature (and dispelling rumors that she may one day run for office), Obama, photographed by Annie Leibovitz, graces the issue's pages in striking pieces from Atelier Versace, the label responsible for her much-talked-about final state dinner dress. Known for so much more than her impeccable sense of style and timeless glamour, America's most inimitable first lady stuns in a cream-colored Carolina Herrera number on the cover.
Take a look at Michelle Obama's breathtaking cover below.
Annie Leibovitz / Vogue
Head over to Vogue to read the full interview, and then let us know what you think in the comments.
Opening Image: Annie Leibovitz for Vogue