Here’s Michelle Obama Just Feeding Apples to Some Pandas In China

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her mother Marian Robinson feed apple to giant pandas as they visit Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu
U.S. first lady Michelle Obama (L) and her mother Marian Robinson (R) feed apple to giant pandas as daughter Malia looks on during their visit at Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu, Sichuan province, March 26, 2014. Petar Kujundzic / Reuters

No big deal

During her weeklong visit to China, First Lady Michelle Obama carved out some time to stop by the Giant Panda Research Base in Chengdu to hang out with some pandas. With the assistance of her mom, Marian Robinson, and daughter, Malia, the FLOTUS used a bamboo shoot to feed apples to some of the cuddly creatures and it was probably the cutest thing in political history.


TIME Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama’s China Trip As Seen Through Instagram

The First Lady takes to Instagram to share her travels abroad.

As first lady Michelle Obama embarks on her good-will tour across China, she and her aides have been using photo-sharing platform Instagram to document her travels. She even has her own hashtag for the trip: #FLOTUSinChina.

Check out a filtered view of her trip abroad below:

First lady Michelle Obama lands in Beijing.

The first lady, along with Peng Liyuan, the wife of China’s President, Xi Jinping, stopped by a robotics class at the Beijing Normal School, one of China’s elite high schools.

“While we loved our visit to the Forbidden City, we only wish we had more time to see everything. But then again, I’m not sure there could ever be enough time to fully appreciate all of the art and history within this extraordinary place,” said Obama on Instagram.

“When it comes to expressing yourself freely and worshiping as you choose and having open access to information, we believe those universal rights — they are universal rights that are the birthright of every person on this planet,” said Obama to Chinese and American students at Peking University.

Obama also visited the Summer Palace in Beijing.

In response to her first visit to the Great Wall, the first lady said, “Simply breathtaking.”

TIME Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Arrives in China in Style

Accompanied by her two daughters and mother, Michelle Obama visited China and met with the country’s president and his wife. See the different outfits that the first lady wore during her stay.

TIME Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama Defends Free Internet in China Speech

First Lady Michelle Obama Travels to China - Day 3
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama delivers a speech at the Stanford Center at Peking University on March 22, 2014 in Beijing, China. Feng Li—Getty Images

"It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet ... because that's how we discover the truth," the First Lady said. Her remarks are a veiled swipe at China's harshly restrictive media environment

First Lady Michelle Obama used a trip to China on Saturday to promote the liberating “power of technology” in a veiled swipe at the harshly restrictive Internet and media environment in the country.

At her first — and only — major speech scheduled during her goodwill tour to China, Obama said new technology can “open up the entire world and expose us to ideas and innovations we could never have imagined.”

“It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media,” she said. “Because that’s how we discover the truth, that’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities, in our country and our world.”

The First Lady spoke on March 22 at the Stanford Center at Peking University, China’s oldest national university, set in a cherry-blossom and willow-tree enclave in northwestern Beijing. Speaking to a mix of Chinese and American students, Obama spent much of her speech to 200-odd people promoting the values of study-abroad programs that she, as a child of parents who had not attended college, never even considered.

For a lot of young people like me who are struggling to afford a regular semester of school, paying for plane tickets or living expenses halfway around the world just isn’t possible. And that’s not acceptable because study abroad shouldn’t just be for students from certain background.

But it was the section about Internet freedom that may raise eyebrows. Obama praised the technology’s power to spread freedom without mentioning the many ways in which the so-called Great Firewall limits Chinese access to the Internet, by blocking social-media sites like Twitter, Facebook and blogging software — plus various foreign news and human-rights websites considered too sensitive for domestic consumption.

The new U.S. ambassador to China Max Baucus, the former Democratic Senator for Montana, also extolled the virtues of Twitter and Facebook in his introduction to Obama’s speech. Both of these sites, however, are blocked in China. Western businesses have complained that such restrictions are undercutting operational efficiency, even causing some to downsize their China operations for other Asian nations with better telecommunications.

But despite constantly shifting censorship directives, the hottest news in China now spreads on native social-media platforms like Weibo or Weixin. The nation’s official news agency is far behind both in terms of public trust and substantive stories. At the same time, the rise of yellow journalism in China, exacerbated by the tendency of poorly paid reporters to accept cash payments for showing up to a press conference, is compromising journalistic objectivity.

The First Lady praised a “new era of citizen diplomacy,” a phrase she attributed to a naturalized American citizen whose parents arrived from Eritrea when he was a child and is now studying in China. But she also cautioned against a government’s tendency to shield itself from criticism, even from scurrilous tabloids, for fear of denting media freedoms:

That’s how we decide which values and ideas we think are best — by questioning and debating them vigorously, by listening to all sides of the argument and by judging for ourselves. And believe me, I know how this can be a messy and frustrating process. My husband and I are on the receiving end of plenty of questioning and criticism from our media and our fellow citizens, and it’s not always easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Because time and again, we have seen that countries are stronger and more prosperous when the voices and opinions of all citizens can be heard.

Obama’s speech was pointed, although it stopped short of naming China. The rest of the First Lady’s trip — ranging from a tour of the Summer Palace and Great Wall in Beijing, to a stop to see the terra-cotta warriors in Xi’an and a cuddle with giant pandas at a reserve in Chengdu — is far less political than this Stanford Center at Peking University speech. Obama’s defense of Internet and media freedom is only a small portion of her March 22 trip.

Nevertheless, Obama’s first-ever trip to China, which she has embarked up with her mother Marian Robinson and daughters Malia and Sasha, had one further pointed stop. In Chengdu, which is not far from Tibetan regions where disaffected locals have self-immolated to protest repressive Chinese government rule, Obama will stop to eat at a Tibetan restaurant. Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, is blessed with vibrant, spicy food. Tibetan cuisine, however, isn’t considered one of the world’s tastiest cuisines.

Nevertheless, the Obama women and girls are scheduled to tuck into a meal that will likely involve variations on tsampa (roasted barley flour), racks of yak meat, heavy dumplings and tea laced with salt and yak butter. A senior Administration official cautioned against reading too much into Obama’s Tibetan dining choice: “Tibetans are an important minority in China.” And that was that. So much for imbuing further political meaning into the First Lady’s goodwill tour.


Michelle Obama Tours Beijing With China’s First Lady

Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping shows U.S. first lady Michelle Obama how to hold a writing brush as they visit a Chinese traditional calligraphy class at the Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students to go abroad in Beijing, March 21, 2014.
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping shows U.S. first lady Michelle Obama how to hold a writing brush as they visit a Chinese traditional calligraphy class at the Beijing Normal School, a school that prepares students to go abroad in Beijing, March 21, 2014. Andy Wong—AP

Obama is on her first-ever trip to China, alongside her mother and two daughters, and will spend four days in Beijing before heading to a string of popular tourist sites in the interior cities of Xi'an and Chengdu

Back during the Ming dynasty, some four centuries ago, the Hall of Earthly Tranquility in Beijing’s Forbidden City was the redoubt of China’s empress. On Friday, under rare unpolluted skies, the first ladies of the world’s two biggest economies, Michelle Obama and her Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan, embarked on a lightning tour of the imperial residence. They strode through the Hall of Supreme Harmony, checked out the Hall of Preserving Harmony and admired a golden throne off-limits to most tourists. Obama and Peng glided past by a large stone carving that was labeled “Large Stone Carving.” Alas, time was running tight so they had to skip a tea ceremony in the Lodge of Fresh Fragrance.

Perhaps next time.

A day before, Obama had arrived on her first trip ever to China with her mother Marian Robinson and children Malia and Sasha in tow. She is set to spend four days in Beijing before heading to the interior cities of Xi’an and Chengdu, where she will take in some of China’s most famous tourist sights: the terra-cotta warriors and the giant pandas. Obama is even blogging about her China experience, a process that will likely require her handlers to use a virtual private network to evade Chinese Internet censorship. In a month, President Barack Obama is also due in Asia. But his four-nation tour, somewhat controversially, will not include a China stop. Instead, it was left to his wife to help smooth ties and develop a relationship—however brief and somewhat stiff—with Peng.

“The relationships between the United States and China couldn’t be more important,” Obama said on Friday morning, “and having the opportunity to travel here, to listen, to learn, to hear more about the education initiatives here in this country and to share my travels with students throughout the United States is a very unique experience, and it’s one that I will never forget.”

Obama began her day at Beijing Normal School, an elite high school whose students enjoy a leafy campus and state-of-the-art equipment. The walls are decorated with murals glorifying both Euclid and Karl Marx. She and Peng visited a robotics class, where students were learning about various robots, including a hexagonal snowflake robot that one student described to Obama as “very amazing and adorable.” The first ladies also took in a calligraphy class, where Peng wrote a four-character aphorism that describes how individuals with high morality can accomplish major tasks. She presented the calligraphy to Obama as a present.

Finally, the two wrapped up their school tour by visiting a ping-pong class where students spend 40 minutes slamming plastic balls onto green tables with metronomic precision. Table tennis is a serious sport in China, with deep political significance. After enduring decades of international isolation during which the world chose the government in Taiwan as China’s rightful representative, Beijing began to integrate into the global community. Ping-pong led the way.

After a speech in which each ping-pong teacher was introduced with great solemnity, Obama slipped out of her vest-coat and tried her hand at ping-pong. The students stayed silent as she whiffed her first few attempts. But as she began to make contact with the table, the kids broke out into gasps and claps. Afterward, Obama, who has made physical fitness one of her signature campaigns, joked about her husband’s ping-pong prowess. “My husband plays,” she said. “He thinks he’s better than he really is.” The students laughed nervously.

The Chinese first lady, whose hair was coiffed in an elaborate braid known in China as “scorpion head,” declined to play. She did, however, nod and smile at her American counterpart’s enthusiastic efforts. For years, Peng, now 51, was far more famous in China than her husband, President Xi Jinping, who quietly rose through the Communist Party’s ranks. A folk singer with the People’s Liberation Army, Peng attained the rank of major general and was known for warbling rousing socialist ditties like “People From Our Village.” While she has been far more visible than her predecessors, who rarely appeared in any photo-ops with their leader husbands, Peng still hews to a script. She stood rigidly next to Obama as they gazed upon robots, exchanging not a word. Nor did she engage in much small talk with the Beijing Normal School students, although she did admit, as she picked up her calligraphy brush: “I’m somewhat nervous, too.” Peng also spoke phrases of well-enunciated English.

More than 30 American kids are studying at Beijing Normal School, part of a growing corps of 20,000 American students in China (the number of Chinese students in the U.S. is upwards of 200,000). Obama has made the importance of education one of the themes of her China trip, and she is using her personal story as an example of American social mobility.

“As someone from a modest background, [Obama] has parents who didn’t go to college but who emphasized education… as a way to succeed and move forward,” said Tina Tchen, Obama’s chief of staff.

Some of the American students studying at Beijing Normal School come from the U.S.’ toniest private schools, like Phillips Academy Andover in Mass. and Sidwell Friends in Washington, which Obama’s daughters attend. The Beijing Normal School program for some foreign students, according to two American teenagers, costs $50,000 a year. Obama is promoting a State Department-backed program called 100,000 Strong that will send American children of all economic backgrounds to study in China.

On Friday evening, Obama, her mother and daughters headed to the Diaoyutai State Guest House for dinner. There, they met with Xi and posed for photographs with the Chinese President. Obama told Xi that she had tried a little ping-pong earlier in the day. “Not so good,” she remarked, of her sporting foray. She described the rest of her China trip so far as “wonderful.”

TIME Style

L’Wren Scott’s Best Dresses on the World’s Best Dressed

Celebrity fans included Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Obama, Amy Adams, Christina Hendricks, and many more

Venerable fashion designer L’Wren Scott, who was found dead in her New York apartment on Monday, dressed everyone from movie stars to First Ladies, in classic and distinctive styles that worked well on almost all body types. She taught herself to sew during her childhood in Utah, partly because she stood 6 feet tall and couldn’t find any clothes to fit her. Her clothes routinely won spots on Best Dressed lists, which made her a popular pick for first-time red carpet stars.

She even won the approval of the notoriously hard-to-impress Vogue editor Anna Wintour. “L’Wren was a total perfectionist, someone who absolutely embodied everything her marvelous clothes stood for: strength of character combined with a confident and powerful style,” Wintour said in a statement. “In person, L’Wren was always unbelievably generous, gracious, kind, and so much fun. Her old world American manners and charm were from another time, but her sensibility was always fiercely modern. We will all miss her.”

  • Sarah Jessica Parker

    Sarah Jessica Parker wearing L'Wren Scott
    Dave M. Benett—Getty Images for The Serpentine Gallery; Fred Duval—FilmMagic/Getty Images; Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images

    Sarah Jessica Parker knows a thing or two about fashion, and the Sex & The City star regularly wore L’Wren Scott. In 2011, Parker said of Scott, “I think L’Wren has an extraordinary ability to make dresses that genuinely flatter a woman. She makes an unbelievably contemporary dress in a remarkably old-fashioned way for all sorts of women and body types.”

    Parker, a frequent client of Scott’s, notably chose (from left) a gold fringed L’Wren Scott dress at the annual Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in London on June 26, 2013, a hot pink L’Wren Scott mini to the London premier of her film Did You Hear About The Morgans? on Dec. 8, 2009, and a skin tight black L’Wren Scott dress to the MTV Movie Awards on June 1, 2008.

  • Nicole Kidman

    Nicole Kidman wearing L'Wrenn Scott
    Daniele Venturelli—WireImage/Getty Images; Kevin Winter—Getty Images; Gregg DeGuire—WireImage/Getty Images

    A long time friend of Scott’s, Kidman said, “L’Wren and I have been dear friends for years now…She knows what aspects to accentuate in a woman, and is able to make you feel incredibly sexy and sophisticated when you are in one of her exquisite designs.”

    Kidman frequently wore Scott’s designs, most notably (from left) to the Rome Film Festival premiere of Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus in 2006, to the 81st Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2009, and again to the Academy Awards in Hollywood in 2013.

  • Christina Hendricks

    Christina Hendricks in L'Wren Scott
    Jeff Kravitz—FilmMagic/Getty Images; Anthony Harvey—Getty Images

    The Mad Men star has turned to Scott’s designs often and said of the designer, “L’Wren’s clothes make you feel like a sexy pin-up, a sophisticated lady and a rockstar all at once. She designs for how women want to look and for what men want to look at.” Many other fans echoed the point that Scott had a particularly good understanding of how clothes fit the body.

    Hendricks took two memorable turns in L’Wren Scott gowns, first at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 20, 2009 (left), and more recently at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in West Hollywood, Calif, on March 2, 2014.

  • Michelle Obama

    Michelle Obama wearing L'Wren Scott
    Kevin Lamarque—Reuters/Corbis; J. Scott Applewhite—AP

    One of Scott’s highest profile clients, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has become as famous for wearing L’Wren Scott as she is for wearing J. Crew. Obama has been seen wearing Scott’s designs several times during President Obama’s two terms, including a slinky gold dress during an official dinner at the Casa Presidential in San Salvador March 22, 2011 (left) and a pink two-piece ensemble while speaking at the GMA Science Forum meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 2010. Obama also famously insisted on wearing her own raspberry L’Wren Scott dress for a shoot for Harper’s Bazaar in 2010.

  • Allison Williams

    2013 CNN Heroes
    Slaven Vlasic—Getty Images; Gary Gershoff—WireImage/Getty Images

    Girls star Allison Williams has become known for her sophisticated sense of style on the red carpet. She has also become a loyal fan of Scott’s, wearing a graphic red and black dress to the Seventh Annual Women Of Worth Awards on Dec. 6, 2012 in New York City (left) and a skin-tight blue leather sheath to the 2013 CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute at The American Museum of Natural History on Nov. 19, 2013 in New York City.

  • Angelina Jolie

    From left: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at "The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford" premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater Sept. 18, 2007 in New York City.
    Evan Agostini—Getty Images

    In 2012, it was rumored that Jolie wanted Scott to design her wedding dress for her nuptials to partner Brad Pitt. A long-time fan of Scott’s, Jolie chose a classic L’Wren Scott L.B.D. to wear to “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford” film premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater Sept. 18, 2007 in New York City with Pitt.

  • Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

    France's President wife Carla Bruni Sark
    Ludovic—AFP/Getty Images

    Former French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy frequently wore L’Wren Scott while her husband was in office, including this perfectly tailored black dress on June 22, 2009 at the Chateau de Versailles outside Paris.

  • Naomi Campbell

    63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival - Cinema Against AIDS - Arrivals
    Mike Marsland—WireImage/Getty Images

    Beloved by actresses and models alike, Scott’s designs have been a favorite of Naomi Campbell’s. She wore a memorable floor length feathered L’Wren Scott gown to amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS benefit gala at the Hotel du Cap on May 20, 2010 in Antibes, France.

  • Amy Adams

    83rd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
    Kevork Djansezian—Getty Images

    Adams chose a L’Wren Scott gown for the 2011 Academy Awards, the year she was nominated for Best Actress her work in The Fighter. The shimmering navy column, paired with Cartier jewels, was one of the most memorable red carpet looks of the event.

  • Penelope Cruz

    83rd Annual Academy Awards - People Magazine Arrivals
    Kevin Mazur—WireImage/Getty Images

    After spending several months out of the spotlight while pregnant, Cruz made a big return to the red carpet in this sparkling red L’Wren Scott gown for the 2011 Academy Awards. Cruz would later choose Scott again that year when she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of fame.

  • Madonna

    Madonna wearing L'Wren Scott
    Ian Gavan—Getty Images; Jon Furniss—WireImage/Getty Images

    In 2009, Scott quit modeling and became a celebrity stylist instead. Madonna was one of Scott’s first clients, and remained loyal to her as Scott became a designer. Madge chose several of Scott’s designs while promoting the film W.E., her directorial debut, choosing a black shift dress for the 68th Venice Film Festival on Sept. 1, 2011 in Venice (left) and a similarly cut patterned dress for the 55th BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 23, 2011.

  • Jessica Paré

    "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala
    Kevin Mazur—WireImage/Getty Images

    Mad Men star Jessica Paré is a newer devotee of Scott’s, choosing her gowns for key moments in her burgeoning career. Paré made a bold statement (and many best-dressed lists) with a gold floor length L’Wren Scott column for her first Met Gala in 2012.

  • Tina Fey

    70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals
    Jason Merritt—Getty Images

    All eyes were on Fey when she hosted her first Golden Globes ceremony in 2013 with Amy Poehler. While Poehler wore several Stella McCartney gowns, Fey favored L’Wren Scott, wearing two of her designs, one stunning black and white sleeveless on the red carpet (pictured) and a deep teal floor length gown later on stage.

  • Kyra Sedgwick

    60th Primetime Emmy Awards - Arrivals
    Steve Granitz—WireImage/Getty Images

    Fashion forward Sedgwick has favored Scott’s designs for her red carpet appearances, and has also attended Scott’s fashion shows with her husband, Kevin Bacon. Sedgwick landed on InStyle’s ‘100 Best Dresses of the Decade’ list with this white and silver L’Wren Scott sheath at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 21, 2008 in Los Angeles.

TIME fashion

A Look Back at L’Wren Scott’s Relationship With Mick Jagger

The famous designer who dressed Michelle Obama was found dead in her New York home Monday from an apparent suicide

MORE: L’Wren Scott Found Dead In Apparent Suicide

TIME fashion

Fashion Designer L’Wren Scott Found Dead

The 49-year-old fashion designer for big names like Michelle Obama was reportedly found hanging by a scarf in her Manhattan apartment on Monday. A spokesperson for Jagger said he was "completely shocked and devastated"

L’Wren Scott, who designed clothes worn by Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie, was reportedly found hanging in her New York City apartment Monday in an apparent suicide, according to multiple media reports.

The 49-year old model and designer was also known for being the long-term girlfriend of singer Mick Jagger. She was allegedly found hanging by a scarf, and it is not yet clear if she left a note.

Scott recently collaborated with Banana Republic to create an affordable collection. Her public relations firm would not comment on reports of her death. A spokeperson for Jagger told CNN the singer was “completely shocked and devastated by the news.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

The (Not Very) Quiet Campaign for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Speaks At UN International Women's Day Event
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves an event at the U.N. in New York City on March 7, 2014 Andrew Burton—Getty Images

Exclusive: An army is forming for the Democratic front-runner should the former Secretary of State decide to run for president in 2016, but the groups' leaders are keeping a safe distance -- and Clinton is glad to have the space

Far from being just another aide to Hillary and Bill Clinton, Craig Smith is something of an adopted son. He worked for the pair in Arkansas, was the very first hire for Bill’s 1992 presidential run, followed them to the White House and then advised both the 1996 and 2008 campaigns. But in recent months, Smith and his mentors haven’t been talking. “Look, I’ve known these people for over 30 years,” he says. “Being in a situation where I can’t talk to them is a little odd. But, you know, it is what it is.”

The reason for the distance is Smith’s current role as a senior adviser for Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that has been set up to organize the grassroots for a 2016 Clinton presidential effort should she run. Super PACs cannot under federal rules coordinate certain types of spending or fundraising with candidates. Smith has interpreted this broadly, cutting off all direct ties to the former First Couple. “Our goal is to build the Ferrari of grassroots operations,” Smith says. “All we need is a driver ready to hit the gas.”

It’s not wholly as hands-off as all that; the back-and-forth is just carefully choreographed. In recent weeks, Clinton has told friends she is grateful for the Ready for Hillary effort, follows its activities closely and believes it is building exactly the kind of foundation she never erected — but discovered she needed — in her race against Barack Obama in 2008. The ­super PAC, meanwhile, has been telegraphing messages to Clinton in plain sight. When people without obvious ties to the Clintons are hired for the group, they are often announced in press releases containing testimonials from someone in the Clintons’ orbit — a move intended to ensure that Hillary will be comfortable with the choice.

(MORE: Clinton Super PAC Ready for Hillary Gets Readier)

As far as Smith is concerned, all systems are go: in the next few months, the group plans to sign up supporters in every state. Should Clinton personally offer endorsements in midterm contests — and it would be unusual if she did not — Ready for Hillary plans to rush in with fundraising assistance and foot soldiers. In other races, Clinton fans will be urged to promote Democrats up and down the ballot, fostering goodwill and, just as important, gaining practical experience that can be reprised later if Clinton jumps in.

There is now talk among Ready officials about finishing 2014 with 5 million supporters and 2 million active volunteers, numbers that would likely dwarf the assets of all the GOP wannabes combined. If realized, that would be substantially more than the piddling grassroots effort that Clinton mounted against Obama six years ago. Could anyone, Democrat or Republican, catch the Clinton machine this time? “I don’t know,” Smith says. “I think it takes a long time to build a grassroots operation. These things don’t pop up overnight.”

Indeed, they do not, and there is little that is spontaneous about this one. Smith estimates that the entire Clinton effort — including all the current super PAC ­projects and an actual campaign — will cost a cool $1.7 billion in total. That back-of-the-envelope calculation is based on his observation that in each presidential campaign the victor ends up spending about 150% of what the winner spent four years before.

The other boost for Ready for Hillary has come from Obama’s political machine. Inside Obama world, the battle scars of the 2008 nomination fight have faded, and there is widespread excitement about a Clinton candidacy; her service in the Administration has made her the clear, if unofficial, legatee. “I have yet to meet anybody — grassroots, donor or elected official — who is not enthusiastically for her,” says one of Obama’s top strategists. “The loyalty thing has played a huge role in the difference between support and enthusiastic support.”

(VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Kicks Off International Women’s Day at the U.N.)

Obama’s advisers have had to reassure the President that the early embrace of Clinton by his far-flung team is a good thing. He has fretted to aides about the leadership role his campaign manager Jim Messina has taken on in another pro-Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA Action, and worried that the early organizing might distract from his effort to limit losses in the looming midterm election. Obama is also aware that the rush to Clinton could diminish his Vice President’s standing and hurt some feelings, whether Joe Biden runs or not.

Meanwhile, the current First Lady maintains a steadfast eye on her husband’s legacy — short term and long — say advisers who have discussed politics with her recently. Michelle Obama is determined that the party choose the strongest contender possible to keep the White House in Democratic hands after her husband departs, and aides say she has her ear close to the ground. Of course, no one expects a public endorsement anytime soon. But like practically everyone else around the President, Michelle has made it clear she believes Clinton looks like the best choice now.

TIME ban bossy

‘Bossy’ Women: 16 Leaders Who’ve Overcome That Label (and Worse)

3 world leaders, 2 Supreme Court Justices, 2 presidential candidates, 2 members of Congress, and a TV host, not to mention a CEO, a First Lady, and Anna Wintour

Updated: March 10, 2014

A year after the publication of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg is back with another initiative to promote female leadership. This time, the Facebook exec takes aim at the language we use to describe women and girls who take charge. Her “Ban Bossy” campaign hopes to change a culture in which men are bosses, but women are “bossy.” Along with her co-sponsors, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Girl Scouts CEO Ana Maria Chávez, Sandberg is asking people to stop referring to women as “bossy,” especially when they’re talking to little girls because of its negative connotations.

“When I was in junior high and running for class vice president,” Sandberg explains in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “one of my teachers pulled my best friend aside to warn her not to follow my example: ‘Nobody likes a bossy girl,’ the teacher warned.” The Facebook exec and billionaire is of course not the only powerful woman to rise above that label. Here are 16 incredibly successful women, from Margaret Thatcher to Marissa Mayer, all of whom were called “bossy” at one point or another, and some of them have been called much worse (poor Angela Merkel).

  • Sonia Sotomayor

    Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at Metro State University in Denver, on May 2, 2013.
    Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at Metro State University in Denver, on May 2, 2013. Brennan Linsley—AP

    One former Second Circuit clerk for a rival judge called Sotomayor “not that smart and kind of a bully on the bench,” and the New York Times reported that some lawyers call her “difficult” and “nasty” in a piece titled Sotomayor’s Blunt Style Raises Issue of Temperment. RNC Chairman Michael Steele called Sotomayor “abrasive” and said the Supreme Court is “not a place for abrasive personalities.” Right, Antonin Scalia?

  • Janet Yellen

    Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee during a hearing on her nomination to become Chair of the Federal Reserve on Nov. 14, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
    Kris Tripplaar—SIPA USA

    When Janet Yellen was confirmed as the first woman Federal Reserve Board Chair, people wrote blog posts with titles like “Janet Yellen: the Bitch of the Fed.”

  • Madeleine Albright

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attends a combined naturalization and donation ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2012.
    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attends a combined naturalization and donation ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2012. Jacquelyn Martin—AP

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s cousins recall her as “very bright, very bossy” when she was growing up. “As I began to climb the ladder, I had to cope with the different vocabulary used to describe similar qualities in men (confident, take-charge, committed) and women (bossy, aggressive, emotional,) ” she said in her memoir. She also noticed how men behaved in ways that would be dismissed if they had been women. “If women leaders had acted the way Arafat and Barak did during Camp David,” she wrote, “they would have been dismissed as menopausal.”

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Bossy Ginsburg
    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg celebrated her 20th anniversary on the bench in 2013. Nikki Kahn--The Washington Post/Getty Images

    When the Supreme Court justice found out that her male law school classmates had a habit of calling her “bitch,” Ginsburg said “better bitch than mouse.”

  • Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton
    Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks to the National Automobile Dealers Association meeting in New Orleans, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert—ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Australian feminist Germaine Greer called Hillary Clinton ” bossy and cold and manipulative” during the 2008 Presidential campaign when she ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination. A female supporter of the Republican nominee, John McCain, elicited chuckles from the candidate when she asked “how do we beat the bitch?” And in 2007, Glenn Beck called Hillary a “stereotypical bitch” and said that the “range in her voice” was like “fingernails on a blackboard.”

  • Geraldine Ferraro

    Bossy Ferraro
    Geraldine Ferraro, Vice-Presidential nominee, speaks at the Democratic National Convention, Juy 1984. PhotoQuest/Getty Images

    Barbara Bush once delicately declined to get catty about the late Geraldine Ferraro: “I can’t say it,” she said, “but it rhymes with ‘rich.'” In 1984, Ferraro became the first woman to be nominated for Vice President by a major political party when Walter Mondale chose her as his running mate on the Democratic ticket.

  • Susan E. Rice

    Bossy Rice
    Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks at the White House in 2011 Jim Young--Reuters

    Fellow diplomats called Susan Rice “bossy” when she was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and the French U.N. Ambassador even whined, “we are not the 14 dwarves, and she is not Snow White.” Other U.N. Security Council Ambassadors have called her “the bulldozer” or “the headmistress.”

  • Elizabeth Warren

    Bossy Warren
    Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren in Washington D.C. in November, 2013 Alex Wong--Getty Images

    One pundit advised Senator Warren to “stop the finger wagging; it adds to her strict schoolmarm appearance and bossy manner.” After Warren said that if she didn’t create a strong consumer protection agency there would be “no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor,” GOP attack adds called her rhetoric “unnecessarily aggressive.”

  • Michelle Obama

    U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16, 2014.
    U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 16, 2014. Charles Dharapak—AP

    The First Lady says it’s not just her opponents who’ve cast her as “bossy:” even the President says so. “This year, I have to say, the president actually put most of the ornaments on the tree because he says I’m bossy,” she said about the White House Christmas decorations, “So I just sat back and let them do it.” She says she’d like to turn the page on the idea that she’s bossy, angry, or bullying. “That’s been the image that people have tried to paint of me since the day Barack announced [his candidacy]– that I’m some angry black woman.”

  • Indira Gandhi

    Bossy Gandhi
    Indira Gandhi (1917 - 1984), Prime Minister of India. Fox Photos/Getty Images

    Richard Nixon called the Indian Prime Minister an “old witch,” and national security advisor Henry Kissinger had some nice words about their diplomatic relationship: “While she was a bitch, we got what we wanted,” he said.

    Correction: The original version of this post misspelled Indira Gandhi’s surname.

  • Angela Merkel

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Trinity College in Dublin on March 7, 2014.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Trinity College in Dublin on March 7, 2014. Kifah Ajamia—AP

    As if anything could be worse than being called the “iron frau,” former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi called her an “unf**kable lard-ass.”

  • Anna Wintour

    Anna Wintour at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, on Feb. 12, 2014 in New York City.
    Anna Wintour at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, on Feb. 12, 2014 in New York City. Timur Emek—Getty Images

    In a 60 Minutes segment about the Vogue editor, Morly Safer said Anna Wintour was “a name that strikes terror in some, loathing in others, and transforms some into obsequious toadies.” Safer reminded viewers that Wintour has been “portrayed as Darth Vader in a frock,” and asked her whether she is, in fact, a bitch. “I hope not,” she said, “I try not to be. But I like people who represent the best of what they do, and if that turns you into a perfectionist, then yes, I am.”

  • Shirley Chisolm

    Bossy Chisholm
    Three-quarter profile portrait of American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (1924 - 2005), Washington DC, 1970 Bob Peterson—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

    Shirley Chisolm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and she wrote that black men “were running me down as a bossy female, a would-be matriarch.” Her mantra was “unbought and unbossed,” and she’s famous for saying, “the emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.”

  • Katie Couric

    Katie Couric at The Variety Studio: Sundance Edition Presented By Dawn Levy on Jan. 19, 2014 in Park City, Utah.
    Katie Couric at The Variety Studio: Sundance Edition Presented By Dawn Levy on Jan. 19, 2014 in Park City, Utah. Jonathan Leibson—Getty Images

    The TV anchor has been regularly called a “bitch” in the blogosphere, and stories about her slapping colleagues seem to be greatly exaggerated (she’s accused of slapping a news editor, when really she slapped his arm). And she’s been talking about the “boss/bossy” distinction for a while:

  • Marissa Mayer

    Bossy Mayer
    Marissa Mayer appears on NBC News' "Today" show Peter Kramer—NBC/Getty Images

    A 2012 Business Insider article about the Yahoo CEO described her “bullying managerial style” and quoted a former colleague who said she “doesn’t understand managing any other way than intimidation or humiliation.” Another former colleague said she was “a nightmare of a human being, but she gets things done.”

  • Barbara Walters

    Barbara Walters anchors ABC's 20/20.
    Barbara Walters anchors ABC's 20/20. Lou Rocco—ABC/Getty Images

    When the legendary television journalist was hospitalized after bad fall, blogs said she was “still bossy from bed,” and a spokesman from ABC News said she was “alert (and telling everyone what to to), which we all take as a very positive sign.” As rumors swirl about Walter’s possible retirement, TMZ’s headline read “Barbara Walters Bitches About Retirement Plans.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser