Michelle Obama says she found the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration so difficult to bear that she ‘stopped even trying to smile’ during the ceremony.
The former first lady, 54, shares the heart-wrenching confession in her new book, Becoming, which is due to be published on Tuesday, explaining that she was left devastated by the lack of diversity – and the stark contrast between Trump’s ceremony and her husband’s.
‘The vibrant diversity of the two previous inaugurations [both of her husband’s] was gone,’ she writes, before going on to state that she felt ‘the optics… what the public saw’ may have been a very realistic illustration of the incoming president’s ‘ideals’.
‘Someone from Barack’s administration might have said that the optics there were bad, that what the public saw didn’t reflect the president’s reality or ideas. But in this case, maybe it did,’ she says.
‘Realizing it, I made my own optic adjustment: I stopped even trying to smile.’
At the time, Michelle’s distressed expression sparked a slew of viral memes, as people used images of the outgoing first lady to illustrate their own feelings about the new president.
Twitter was full of funny screen grabs and jokes about Michelle’s pained face, with people writing things like, ‘Today Americans learned that Michelle Obama does not posses a poker face,’ and, ‘Michelle Obama is literally all of us today.’
In an interview with Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts, which aired on Monday morning, hours before her book is due to launch, Michelle was pressed about her opinion on the current political situation.
‘I’ve said what I will continue to say: being Commander in Chief is a hard job,’ the mother-of-two said. ‘You need to have discipline, you need to read, and you need to be knowledgeable, you need to know history, you need to be careful with your words.
‘But voters make those decisions, and once those voters have spoken… we live with what we live with.’
With regard to her husband’s presidency – and how it might have led to Trump’s election, Michelle refuses to be drawn.
When Roberts noted that ‘there are some people that feel that the seed of discontent that led to Trump being elected happened during your husband’s presidency’, the mother-of-two replied: ‘I would like to indulge the question, but it requires a level of speculation about how people are feeling and thinking that I don’t have.
‘I think we’re going to have to figure that out as a nation.’
What she is sure about, however, is the fact that her family’s presence in the White House was both celebrated and ‘hated’ – perhaps even in equal measure.
‘Our presence in the White House had been celebrated by millions of Americans, but it also contributed to a reactionary sense of fear and resentment among others,’ she writes in her book.
‘The hatred was old and deep, and as dangerous as ever.’