TIME 2016 Campaign

First Lady: U.S. Should Elect Female President ‘As Soon as Possible’

White House Summit on Working Families
US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at the White House Summit on Working Families, in Washington DC, June 23, 2014. Michael Reynolds—EPA

As long as it's not her, Michelle Obama said at the Summit on Working Families.

Michelle Obama said the U.S. is ready for a female president and that the country should elect one “as soon as possible” on Monday.

“The person who should do the job is the person who is most qualified — and we have some options, don’t we?” Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts at the Summit on Working Families in Washington, D.C., according to video from C-SPAN3.

“I think this country is ready — this country is ready for anyone who can do that job,” she said.

Though she did not make any kind of endorsement, Obama’s remarks seem to acknowledge a possible run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose 2016 campaign future has been the subject of wild speculation. President Barack Obama has said in the past that Clinton would be a “very effective” president if she decides to run and wins.

Michelle Obama, however, isn’t thinking about any kind of run for office herself. She said her post-White House plans “definitely will not be” political, but instead “mission-based” and “service-focused.”

[Mediaite]

TIME White House

Obamas Hope Daughters Will Try Minimum Wage Work

Barack, Sasha Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama with daughter Sasha participate in a community service project at the D.C Central Kitchen in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King's life and legacy on January 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery-Pool—Getty Images

President and first lady Want Them To See "Getting a Paycheck Is Not Always Fun"

Growing up in the White House, Sasha and Malia Obama are largely isolated from the experiences of everyday Americans. To counter that isolation, first lady Michelle Obama said in a recent interview she hopes her daughters will “get a taste of what it’s like to do that real hard work” with a minimum wage job.

“We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair,” President Barack Obama added in an interview with Parade Magazine released Friday. “But that’s what most folks go through every single day.”

But, nonetheless, 15-year-old daughter Malia Obama apparently grabbed a job as a production assistant on the set of Steven Spielberg’s upcoming TV series Extant. No word yet on how much that pays.

TIME Food & Drink

Alice Waters: The Fate of Our Nation Rests on School Lunches

TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World - Red Carpet
Alice Waters attends the TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 most influential people in the world at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 29, 2014 in New York City. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images

It was the French philosopher Brillat-Savarin who wrote, “The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves.” And it is this, his most famous idea, that is now never far from my mind when it comes to the discussion of school lunch in this country. When I read last week that there are those in Washington who would dismantle the recent positive gains that have been made in improving the way children are fed at school, I was appalled — yet sadly not surprised. As with many institutions and universal ideas in this nation in recent years, it seems that even something as right and as basic as feeding children food that is good for them has become politicized.

Right now we all need to pause, step back and look at the bigger picture. The costs associated with not investing in real food are too great, and we need to acknowledge honestly the far-reaching consequences that the current program has had in every area of American life. By allowing fast-food culture into the cafeteria, we have effectively endorsed that industry’s values, helped facilitate the obesity epidemic, widened the achievement gap and aided an addiction to junk. Even in the short term these costs, both tangible and intangible, dwarf the budget for a universal — and real — school food program. The idea of school lunch as an egalitarian mechanism to nourish our nation’s potential has long been discarded and devalued. We are faced with an enormous crisis of health, education and inequality.

We need to have the courage and conviction to establish a nutritious, sustainable, free school-lunch program for all.

The incremental steps the First Lady has fought for, as valuable as they are, are never going to address the challenges we are facing. Lunch must become integrated into the daily lessons. Like physical education, we need edible education. Until lunch becomes about learning and is central to school life, children and lunch ladies are bound to reject changes. A plan of this scope and scale may not be realistic in the current Congress, but it is where we must go. I truly believe that decisionmakers on both sides of politics will come to realize this is the most logical place to reach every child and have the most lasting impact. The public school system is our last truly democratic institution.

Having worked in it — and in this field — for more than 20 years with the Edible Schoolyard Project, I have seen that engaging all children at the table with a delicious meal made from real ingredients transforms their attitudes and behavior for life. By making lunch an interactive part of the curriculum, we empower children to make their own informed decisions.

When children learn about where their food comes from, their eyes open to the billion-dollar marketing campaigns that target them. They are also freed from the prison of fast-food addiction. It is my experience — and that of many other educators in the U.S. — that once there is a real alternative, children do not throw out their healthier options. In fact, they embrace those healthy foods and never look back.

I know that many in government on both sides of politics now realize that in food we find the root problem of many of our nation’s ills: diet-related disease, hunger, environmental devastation. And I am sure that by redirecting ourselves to real food, we find also the solution. We need to start at school. By radically changing the way we think about feeding our children, we not only change the nutrition of individual children and the diet of all Americans in a generation, we also restore the health of the land — and the essential values of this country.

TIME health

House Republicans Pass a Hot Potato on Healthy Federally Subsidized Meals

Michelle Obama, Eric Goldstein, Donna Martin
First lady Michelle Obama, seated with Eric Goldstein, chief executive officer, Office of School Support Services, New York City Department of Education, left, and Donna Martin, School Nutrition Program, Burke County Board of Education, in Georgia, speaks during a discussion with other school leaders and experts surrounding school nutrition in an event, Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

Republicans are not Impressed by the First Lady’s healthy food push.

House Appropriators awoke Thursday to an op-ed in the New York Times by Michelle Obama warning them not to pass legislation that she says weakens healthy standards for school lunches passed in 2010. “[S]ome members of the House of Representatives are now threatening to roll back these new standards and lower the quality of food our kids get in school,” the First Lady wrote. “They want to make it optional, not mandatory, for schools to serve fruits and vegetables to our kids. They also want to allow more sodium and fewer whole grains than recommended into school lunches.”

Unimpressed, the House Appropriations Committee approved the Agriculture Department’s fiscal 2015 spending bill, including the controversial changes, by a vote of 31-18. Republicans considered the changes fairly moderate, certainly not as dramatic as what the School Nutrition Association had advocated, according to a GOP aide close to the process, who noted that the bill was passed out of subcommittee unanimously. The SNA has been lobbying to slow down implementation of changes to school lunch rules because of a variety of challenges, such as the cost, the availability in rural areas and the drop off of a million students in the past year—mostly older high school students in urban areas who are going out and buying fast food in the place of the new healthy lunches.

At stake in the House bill are two roll backs. The first is a waiver that would allow schools struggling to meet the new standards an extra year to implement the changes. While this sounds innocuous enough, school budgets are not often clearly defined and it could give schools “the ability to game the system,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters on Wednesday. “Plus it would be complicated to implement. Would the department audit the schools?” More than 30 million children get one or more meals every day as part of the program.

Vilsack noted that 90% of the schools are already in compliance, a high rate for a new program. So to open the door for delays, critics say, could be the first step in dismantling regulations that Republicans have derided as the government acting as a nanny state. Democrats tried to strip the waiver from the bill in Thursday’s committee mark up, failing in a vote along party lines.

In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee last week rejected blanket waivers in favor of boosting training to help schools come into compliance, provided more flexibility on whole grain standards and, in a victory for the cheese lobby, waived the second and third sodium reduction requirements due to come into effect in 2017 and 2022. The cheese lobby had been concerned that cheese doesn’t melt well with less sodium. Health advocates argue that children don’t need to be eating pizza and grilled cheese, any way.

The second change in the House bill would allow white potatoes to be included in the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps subsidize fruits and vegetables for low-income families. Up until this point, the program focused on encouraging the purchase of leafy greens and fruits not often bought by low income families. Potatoes are the number one consumed vegetable in the U.S., mostly in fried form. The potato changes were included in the both the House and Senate bills and, in a bow to the potato lobby, would mark “the first time that Congress has interfered with the scientists’ recommendation for the WIC program,” as Senator Tom Harkin noted in opposing the Senate version last week.

Potato supporters argue that the USDA says certain nutrients are still lacking in women and children’s diets and potatoes carry many of those nutrients. The Senate version limits the potatoes to whole potatoes with no additives such as oil and sugar, essentially barring program participants from using their credits to buy potato products such as French fries and hash browns.

The bill will now head to the House floor for passage before being conferenced with the Senate version where differences over the hot cheesy potato mess will be ironed out. It will surely not be as fun or tasty as it sounds, especially with Michelle Obama checking to make sure everyone’s eating their vegetables.

TIME health

You Say Potato, Mrs. Obama. I Say, Please Stop Micromanaging Our Diets and Our Schools

If you’ve ever wondered just where the role of government ends and where the ability of adults to choose things for themselves and their children begins, don’t bother. The answer, at least according to First Lady Michelle Obama, is nowhere.

Marching under the banner of Science with a capital S, Obama believes the federal government should be able to tell you what to eat. Or, more precisely, not eat. At least if you’re poor enough to be on relief or if you’re remanded to the custody of a K-12 public school.

Writing in the New York Times, Obama warns that “right now, the House of Representatives is considering a bill to override science by mandating that white potatoes be included on the list of foods that women can purchase using WIC dollars.”

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Obama agrees that “there is nothing wrong with potatoes.” It’s just that according to the Institute of Medicine (a.k.a. “science”), the “low-income women and their babies and toddlers” served by the WIC program would be better off if they chowed down on “nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.”

When it comes to schoolkids, Obama is just as emphatic that decisions are best made in Washington, rather than in the countless cafeterias of the nation’s 100,000 public schools. Some House members, she writes, “want to make it optional, not mandatory, for schools to serve fruits and vegetables to our kids. They also want to allow more sodium and fewer whole grains than recommended into school lunches.”

The First Lady believes that the various programs she’s championed over the past few years (like Let’s Move!, which hectors kids to exercise) are producing “glimmers of progress” in the War on Fat People, especially among children ages 2 to 5. The fact is, however, that there is no clear link between any of the programs she promotes and the trends she applauds.

According to a new Centers for Disease Control study, the obesity rate among kids that age is 8%, down from 14% in 2003. That’s all well and good, but the authors caution that one year doesn’t make a trend, especially since that group makes up “a tiny fraction” of the population. Indeed, the same report also notes that obesity rates among Americans 19 years old and younger had already stopped climbing by 2003 and have been flat ever since, at about 17%. Other accounts suggest that youth obesity rates peaked even earlier, in 1999. Over the same general time frame, adult obesity rates have stayed steady, at around 30%. This all came after a tripling of rates between the 1970s and 1990s.

Obama is welcome to take credit for a general flattening of trends that began years before her husband became President. However, when she starts urging the federal government to limit individual choices and centralize control in the federal government, attention should be paid. “As parents, we always put our children’s interests first,” she writes. “We wake up every morning and go to bed every night worrying about their well-being and their futures.”

If she really believes that, then why not treat poor people with the same respect that we treat middle-class and upper-middle-class folks? If we’re going to supplement their incomes, why not give them a cash payment and let them figure out how to make the best use of it?

Similarly, if we can’t trust our schools to figure out how best to fill their students’ stomachs, why the hell are we forcing our children to attend such institutions in the first place? When is the last time you heard kids who attend schools of choice—whether private, religious or public charters (which enroll disproportionately high numbers of low-income students)—even mention food?

During the debate over Obamacare’s individual mandate, we had a fiery national conversation over whether the government could force you to buy broccoli. But even when the Supreme Court effectively said it could, nobody believed it could make you eat the stuff. That debate, it seems, took place in a simpler time.

TIME Food

Junk Food May Be “Addictive” to Kids

We all know that junk food like pizza, ice cream, and soda is bad for our health, but is it also addicting?

The study of food addiction is an emerging and controversial field. But according to Ashley Gearhardt, a researcher who focuses on food addiction at the University of Michigan and helped establish the guidelines for the Yale Food Addiction Scale, highly processed foods can lead to classic signs of addiction like loss of control, tolerance, and withdrawal. A growing body of research backs her up—and that’s especially concerning in children because an addiction forged in a child’s early years could put the child at more serious risk for chronically unhealthy eating into adulthood.

First Lady Michelle Obama, in a rare overtly political speech on Tuesday, admonished Congressional Republicans for a proposal that would weaken nutritional standards in school lunches, dismantling a policy she has personally fought for. “The stakes couldn’t be higher on this issue,” the First Lady said. She may be right in more ways than one.

Less is known about food addiction in kids than in adults, but some research suggests that kids, like adults, have a relationship with food that looks an awful lot like traditional addiction to alcohol or drugs. A 2011 qualitative study of almost 30,000 people ages 8-21 examined poll responses, chat room transcripts and message board comments from overweight and obese children on a website launched as an overweight intervention tool for teens and preteens. The researchers found that children used classic addiction language when describing their relationship to food, including an inability to cut down, continued use despite negative consequences, and withdrawal symptoms when those foods were not available. The research was published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention.

Kids may be even more prone to addiction than adults, says Gearhardt, because their brains haven’t developed impulse control yet. And though the research hasn’t begun on this idea, it isn’t a stretch to posit that early exposure to addicting foods might lead to worse impulse control later in life. Research suggests that teenagers who abuse substances like alcohol and cigarettes are at greater risk for substance abuse later in life. Gearhardt explains: “The more kids are exposed to [junk foods] early in life, the more it is going to set them up for problems. They’re brains are still pretty plastic.”

The best way to keep kids healthy, says Gearhardt, is to eliminate the option to eat junk food all together (yes, that means getting rid of vending machines in schools), rather than simply giving them more access to healthy fruits and vegetables. “No one is binging on broccoli. No one eats strawberries until they throw up. If these kids are so used to eating junk foods, those other foods just can’t compete” she says. “

“If you keep offering more water at a bar, people are still going to drink alcohol.” But unlike a bar, she points out, kids don’t have the option of going elsewhere, making it even more imperative to make school lunch healthy.

 

TIME White House

Michelle Obama Bites Back at Critics of Her Healthy School Lunch Standards

Michelle Obama
First lady Michelle Obama joins a discussion with school leaders and experts surrounding school nutrition at an event Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Pablo Martinez Monsivais—AP

In one of the most political speeches she’s given, Michelle Obama accused House Republicans of “playing politics” with “our children’s future”

If Michelle Obama had it her way, House Republicans would currently be in detention.

In one of the most overtly political speeches during her tenure as First Lady, Obama slammed Republicans on Tuesday for trying to weaken school nutritional standards, one of her key policy achievements.

“This is unacceptable,” Obama said at a White House meeting with school leaders and experts. “It’s unacceptable to me not just as First Lady but also as a mother.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher on this issue,” she said, pointing to obesity statistics in both children and adults. “The last thing we can afford to so right now is play politics with our kids health.”

Early in her husband’s first term, Obama took on childhood obesity as one of her priorities, starting an initiative called Let’s Move to promote exercise. But without changes in diet, Obama said Tuesday, one in three children would become obese and one in three would develop diabetes. She became an early backer of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was signed into law in December 2010. The bill moved to strip soda and candy machines from schools and replace pizza and hamburgers with healthier alternatives like salad and fruit bars.

Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee this month said they were weighing language to strip whole grain requirements and competitive food restrictions in their 2015 funding bill. The School Nutrition Association, which represents more than 55,000 school nutritionists across the country, is pushing to weaken the standards. “SNA celebrates every success,” SNA President Leah Schmidt said in a statement Tuesday, “but the Administration’s own data proves that student participation in school lunch is abruptly down in 48 states despite rising school enrollment and 30 years of steady program growth.”

Nearly one million fewer schoolchildren ate school-provided lunches daily between fiscal year 2012 and 2013 in the wake of the healthier standards, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But most school systems saw a slight decrease when the changes were first instituted before a fairly quick rebound, Donna Martin, director of school nutrition at Burke County Public Schools in Georgia, told the White House meeting.

“In the South, do you think taking away fried chicken was going to be easy,” Martin said to laughs around the table. “But we replaced it with baked herb chicken and chips.” Martin said student caloric intake and health improved so much that the football coach credited the new menus for helping his team win the state championship.

Obama nodded in agreement. “We have to be willing to fight the hard fight now,” she said, asking people in the room for ideas about how to help struggling schools rather than allowing them to revert back to junk food and sodas. “Rolling things back is not the answer.”

TIME College

12 Inspiring Graduation Speeches by Amazing Women

Inspirational moments from Sheryl Sandberg, J.K. Rowling, Oprah, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres and more.

Let’s face it, ten years out, many of us can’t remember who spoke at our graduation ceremonies, never mind repeat what they said. But every year there’s a small batch of gems–speeches by a celebrity or CEO that fuse together equal parts wit, wisdom, nostalgia and meaning. Many of these are by women. In fact, the commencement address has become a particularly powerful platform for accomplished women. In the coming weeks, big names like Scandal showrunner Shonda Rhimes and General Motors CEO Mary Barra will ascend podiums around the country. In the meantime, here are some of our favorite graduation moments from the last few years.

Julie Andrews at University of Colorado Boulder (2013): “Use your knowledge and your heart to stand up for those who can’t stand. Speak for those who can’t speak. Be a beacon of light, for those whose lives have become dark. Fight the good fight against global warming. Be a part of all that is good and decent. Be an ambassador for the kind of world you want to live in”

Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane University (2009): “Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path and by all means you should follow that. Don’t give advice, it will come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t take anyone’s advice. So my advice to you is to be true to yourself and everything will be fine.”

Toni Morrison at Rutgers University (2011): “But I tell you, no generation, least of all mine, has a complete grip on the imagination and goals of subsequent generations; not if you refuse to let it be so. You don’t have to accept media or even scholarly labels for yourself: Generation A, B, C, X, Y, [majority], minority, red state, blue state; this social past or that one. Every true heroine breaks free from his or her class—upper, middle, and lower—in order to serve a wider world.”

Barbara Kingsolver at Duke University (2008): “If somebody says ‘your money or your life,’ you could say, ‘life,’ and mean it. You’ll see things collapse in your time, the big houses, the empires of glass. The new green things that sprout up through the wreck — those will be yours.”

Michelle Obama at Eastern Kentucky University (2013): “If you’re a Democrat, spend some time talking to a Republican. And if you’re a Republican, have a chat with a Democrat. Maybe you’ll find some common ground, maybe you won’t. But if you honestly engage with an open mind and an open heart, I guarantee you’ll learn something. And goodness knows we need more of that, because we know what happens when we only talk to people who think like we do — we just get more stuck in our ways, more divided, and it gets harder to come together for a common purpose. “

Amy Poehler at Harvard Class Day (2011): “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

J.K. Rowling at Harvard (2008): “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Sheryl Sandberg at Barnard College (2011): “We will never close the achievement gap until we close the ambition gap. But if all young women start to lean in, we can close the ambition gap right here, right now, if every single one of you leans in. Leadership belongs to those who take it. Leadership starts with you.”

Maria Shriver at USC Annenberg School of Communication (2012): “I hope if you learn anything from me today, you learn and remember — the power of the pause. Pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite.”

Meryl Streep at Barnard (2010): “This is your time and it feels normal to you but really there is no normal. There’s only change, and resistance to it and then more change.”

Kerry Washington at George Washington University (2013): ““When you leave here today and commence the next stage of your life, you can follow someone else’s script, try to make choices that will make other people happy, avoid discomfort, do what is expected, and copy the status quo. Or you can look at all that you have accomplished today and use it as fuel to venture forth and write your own story. If you do, amazing things will take shape.”

Oprah Winfrey at Spelman University (2012): “You must have some vision for your life. Even if you don’t know the plan, you have to have a direction in which you choose to go,”

 

TIME Arts

Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama Deliver a Special Passive-Aggressive Mother’s Day Address On SNL

The bitterness is directed not toward their moms, but toward each other

To kick off Saturday night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Michelle Obama (played by Sasheer Zamata) and Hillary Clinton (played by Vanessa Bayer) came together to deliver a Mother’s Day message.

“You know, both of us have been called so many things,” Clinton says. “It’s nice to have one day where the first thing that we’re called is mom.”

The women seem to be in good spirits, but soon their address devolves into a sort of tense proxy war of quietly calculated insults.

“What Barack and I are really proud of are giving the gift of health care to 8 million Americans,” Obama says. “You know, which is funny, because I tried to give them that gift 16 years ago, so it’s more like a regift,” Clinton responds, prompting Obama to shoot back, “But we actually delivered it.”

They continue their address by acknowledging the challenges of being a working mother. Clinton, however, thinks she knows just a bit more about this, since she spent years crisscrossing the globe dealing with humanitarian crises. “You know, but I suppose it’s also tough to make a chubby kid eat an apple.”

TIME Parenting

The Best (and Worst) Advice From Famous Moms

In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve rounded up some of the of the most thoughtful — and sometimes not so thoughtful — advice from moms who don’t hesitate to make their feelings known.

Beyoncé

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six
Elsa—Getty Images

The singer, who became a mother almost two and a half years ago, shared advice in Out Magazine on how to be powerful as a woman by embracing many identities at once.

“There is unbelievable power in ownership, and women should own their sexuality. There is a double standard when it comes to sexuality that still persists. Men are free and women are not. That is crazy. The old lessons of submissiveness and fragility made us victims. Women are so much more than that. You can be a businesswoman, a mother, an artist, and a feminist—whatever you want to be—and still be a sexual being. It’s not mutually exclusive.”

Kristin Cavallari

Kristin Cavallari Visits "FOX & Friends"
Jamie McCarthy—Getty Images

Following in the footsteps of Jenny McCarthy, former reality TV star Kristin Cavallari admitted to not vaccinating her son during an interview on Fox & Friends during which she urged mothers to think of vaccination as a personal choice

Listen, to each their own. I understand both sides of it. I’ve ready too many books about autism and there’s some scary statistics out there. It’s our personal choice, and, you know, if you’re really concerned about your kid get them vaccinated.”

Hillary Clinton

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in A No Ceilings Conversation at Lower Eastside Girls Club  in New York
Andrew Kelly—Reuters

The former secretary of state shared some of her wisdom at the opening of the Women of the World Conference in New York in April, talking about the double standard for women and advice for how they can get ahead.

Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient to keep moving forward despite whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others, believe me this hard-won advice. But it is a process. You need other women, you need your friends to support you, and you need male friends as well as female ones. You need good role models all of that is true. But at the end of the day, you really have to be good if you have high aspirations. You need to be well-educated, prepared, and willing to take your chances when they come your way. Cut yourself a little bit of slack.”

Angelina Jolie

86th Annual Academy Awards - People Magazine Press Room
Jason LaVeris—WireImage/Getty Images

The Maleficent actress has become an outspoken advocate for all the rights and health of all women, especially in the wake of her preventative double mastectomy last year. She’s also a mom of six who spoke to Entertainment Weekly earlier this year about how motherhood has changed her life.

“It changes you forever. It changes your perspective and it gives you a nice purpose and focus. I am disheartened by many things but I wake up, like I woke up this morning, to kids and we talk and we laugh and we play and I’m light again, and I’m a kid again, and I’m loving and soft again because they’ve brought that back in my life.”

Michelle Obama

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-HEALTH CARE-MOTHERS
Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, shortly after Justin Bieber was arrested on drunk driving charges and authorities claimed his private jet reeked of marijuana, First Lady Michelle Obama talked about what she would do if she were the singer’s mother during an interview with Univision Radio host Enrique Santos. The mother of two (Sasha, 12, and Malia, 15) reminded listeners that Beiber’s just a kid despite his larger than life role as an entertainer.

“They just want you near, you know – they want that advice from a parent. They want to see you on a daily basis, because the thing is he’s still a kid. He’s still growing up. So, I would pull him close.”

Gwyneth Paltrow

Goldene Kamera 2014 - Red Carpet Arrivals
Luca Teuchmann—WireImage/Getty Images

The queen of healthy living can’t seem to avoid controversy this year, especially after she unwittingly stirred up another round in the mommy wars by commenting on how difficult it is for her as a working actress on a movie set versus a regular mom with a nine to five job. But with a recent statement on her lifestyle site, Goop, she attempted to smooth some ruffled mommy feathers.

“Is it not hard enough to attempt to raise children thoughtfully, while contributing something, or bringing home some (or more) of the bacon? Why do we feel so entitled to opine, often so negatively, on the choices of other women? Perhaps because there is so much pressure to do it all, and do it all well all at the same time (impossible).”

Susan Patton (Princeton Mom)

Today - Season 63
NBC/Getty Images

The viral sensation sparked conversation online after a Valentine’s Day-themed editorial in the Wall Street Journal encouraged women to start looking for a husband instead of focusing on their career.

“You should be spending far more time planning for your husband than for your career—and you should start doing so much sooner than you think. This is especially the case if you are a woman with exceptionally good academic credentials, aiming for corporate stardom.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith

2014 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
David Livingston—Getty Images

This actress has never hesitated to talk about how much faith she has in her kids. After people criticized her for allowing her daugther Willow to cut her hair, she spoke out on her Facebook page about the decision-making process.

“The question why I would LET Willow cut her hair. First the LET must be challenged. This is a world where women,girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain.”

Sheryl Sandberg

The Davos World Economic Forum 2014
Chris Ratcliffe—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Facebook COO might be best known for her “Lean In,” career manifesto for young women, but she’s also also shared advice about motherhood during an interview with NPR last March.

“I want everyone to be able to choose, but I want us to be able to choose unencumbered by gender choosing for us. I have a 7-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Success for me is that if my son chooses to be a stay-at-home parent, he is cheered on for that decision. And if my daughter chooses to work outside the home and is successful, she is cheered on and supported.”

Jessica Simpson

11th Annual John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit - Arrivals
Tommaso Boddi—WireImage/Getty Images

The actress, fashion mogul and mother of two, has been very public about her pregnancies and post-baby weight loss campaign with Weight Watchers. And she continues to showcase her early years of motherhood through social media, regularly posting to Instagram with captions like: “Falling asleep looking at pictures of my kids…now I know what my life is about. I am so grateful.” But her gratefulness doesn’t come without the nerves of a new mom, as she told People during her second pregnancy, “There are little things that you kind of obsess over. I never knew how protective I was until I had my own child. I’m already thinking about intruders coming into the house and what our escape route would be.”

Tina Fey

Celebrities Visit "Late Show With David Letterman" - August 21, 2013
Jeffrey Ufberg—WireImage/Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, comedienne Tina Fey mixed humor into her honesty about motherhood. She told David Letterman that though it was great to be home with her kids more, “you’re just like a human napkin for your kids, like, they just wipe their face on you and stuff.” And she’s learned to take even the difficult moments of motherhood with a grain of salt, considering when her youngest daughter was two, she tried to choke Fey after being upset about bath time being over. “It’s so funny because they’re not strong enough to kill you and they want to kill you so bad!”

Kim Kardashian

"Charles James: Beyond Fashion" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
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Keeping up with motherhood is no small feat for the queen of the Kardashian Klan. Her daughter, aptly named North, with rapper Kanye West, gave the reality star a new take on racism, she explained on her blog. “To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been,” she wrote. “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing. So the first step I’m taking is to stop pretending like this isn’t my issue or my problem, because it is, it’s everyone’s… because the California teenager who was harassed and killed by his classmates for being gay, the teenage blogger in Pakistan who was shot on her school bus for speaking out in favor of women’s rights, the boy in Florida who was wrongly accused of committing a crime and ultimately killed because of the color of his skin, they are all someone’s son and someone’s daughter and it is our responsibility to give them a voice and speak out for those who can’t and hopefully in the process, ensure that hate is something our children never have to see.”

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