First lady Michelle Obama has a message for teenage girls: Don’t let boys stand in the way of your success.
“There is no boy, at this age, that is cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education,” the Harvard graduate said as she imparted advice to an audience of 1,000 young women gathered in New York City. Obama’s comments were first reported by the Associated Press.
The first lady offered her life story as proof: “If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the president of the United States.”
Obama dished out the life lessons at the historic Apollo Theater on Wednesday at an event promoting her “Let Girls Learn” initiative, which seeks to bring education to the estimated 62,000,000 girls around the world who are not in school.
“Compete with the boys,” Obama said, as she encouraged each schoolgirl in front of her not to be afraid of being the brainiest kid in school. “Beat the boys.”
The mother of teenagers Sasha and Malia didn’t shy away from the fact that “being a teenager is hard,” but she highlighted a silver lining: It isn’t permanent. “Half these people, you’re not going to know when you’re 60,” she said, according to the Associated Press.
A day earlier, during an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s late night talk show, Obama made clear that opportunity separates those who succeed from those who do not, recalling the chance she got to go to a college prep school an hour and a half away when she was a young girl living on the South Side of Chicago.
“There are kids just as bright as me who didn’t get those opportunities, so I think about that every single day,” Obama said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about not only international education, but education period.”