Michelle opens up on Barack, living in a ‘really nice prison,’ and the power of bangs

Updated
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama gestures as she speaks during African First Ladies Summit: “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” hosted by the George W....
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama gestures as she speaks during African First Ladies Summit: “Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa,” hosted by the George W....
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Fourteen-year-old Malia Obama doesn’t hold back with her dad, according to mom Michelle Obama.

“I have found that my husband needs time to be off and the only time is when they walk into the doors of the residence and we sit down and have a family dinner,” Obama told a summit of African first ladies on Tuesday. “And the thing about having girls, they could care less about him, there are times when Malia is “Sooo, what about climate change? What about the tigers?”

Obama took the stage with former first lady Laura Bush in Africa Tuesday morning and talked about their unique gigs.

“Nothing prepares you for this role,” Obama said. “It’s so startling that the transition of power in the U.S. happens so quickly that you don’t have access to the House until the president takes the Oath of Office.”

Bush joked that the move takes place during the Inauguration Day Parade, with one family leaving and the other moving into the house in just a few hours.

“I remember walking into that house and I didn’t know where the bathrooms were, but I had to get ready for a ball!” Obama recalled incredulously. “It’s like, and I’ve gotta look nice? And what door is this and you’re opening up all these doors and you can’t find your toothpaste and you don’t know where you’re kids are…That’s day one.”

Once inside the house, well, you’re there–for four to eight years.

“There are prison elements to it, but it’s a really nice prison,” Obama laughed.

“With a chef!” Bush interjected.

Women are particularly well-suited to public service, Obama said. “The world will be better off when our voices are at the table, we bring a different perspective, we are mothers, we are nurturers, we have to juggle a lot,” she said. “I love my husband but sometimes when he has like five things to do, it’s funny to watch it—I’m like ‘you don’t know where you jacket is right now, you cant find that shoe, Mr. President.’”

All things considered: being first lady is one of the best jobs, Obama said.

“I always joke that we have probably the best jobs in the world, because, unlike our husbands who have to react and respond to crisis on a minute by minute basis, they come into office with a wonderful, profound agenda, and then they’re faced with reality,” she said. “On the other hand, we get to work on what we’re passionate about. That’s something I’d encourage first ladies to never lose track of.”

Obama has spearheaded major initiatives on combating childhood obesity and veteran unemployment during her time as first lady.

Which isn’t to say the media always focuses on these passion projects, the first lady joked, recalling her history of garnering headlines for her hair, clothing choices, and arms.

“We take our bangs and we stand in front of important things that the world needs to see—and eventually people stop looking at bangs and they start looking at what we stand in front of,” she said.

“We hope,” Bush said.

“They do,” Obama said.

Michelle opens up on Barack, living in a 'really nice prison,' and the power of bangs

Updated