Michelle Obama reveals how Malia deals with selfie requests at Harvard

'My daughters didn't ask for fame.'

Words – Tierney McAfee

From the editors of People

Former First Lady Michelle Obama says ‘fame is a monster’ that many people want — but her daughters are not among them.

During a question-and-answer session with author Roxane Gay at the marketing conference Inbound on Wednesday, Obama said that as a grown woman, she’s learned how to handle fame and criticism in a healthy way. But for her daughters, Malia, 19, and Sasha, 16, it can be more challenging, Obama said, according to two sources who attended the event, which was closed to press coverage.

The former first lady pointed out that her daughters — who were just 10 and 7 when their father, Barack Obama, took office — didn’t ask to be famous and sometimes have trouble coping with all of the attention they receive from fans, critics and the media.

Obama said she tries to model reacting with generosity, but she acknowledged that it’s particularly difficult for Malia — who just started her freshman year at Harvard — to deal with 20 to 30 people each day coming up to her and saying, ‘Do I know you?’ or ‘Can I get a picture with you?’

Obama asked for patience and privacy for Malia, one of the sources who attended the event, Maureen Roach Tobin, 60, of Iowa, told PEOPLE.

malia obama university

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Obama added that she’s proud of her daughters for interacting with people with empathy and grace — even if they say no when people ask for their time or a photo.

The former first lady also took aim at President Trump and his supporters during her talk, saying that ‘any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice.’

‘Anyone who looked at those two candidates and said, “That man is closer to my voice” doesn’t like their own voice,’ Obama said.

She added, however, that she and her husband still support Trump and want him to succeed for the sake of the country.

Obama also confessed that she doesn’t miss life in the White House, describing her experience as first lady as similar to ‘being shot out of a cannon … with a blindfold and the spotlight on you.’

She added that she does miss the ‘people and the work,’ telling the audience that being first lady taught her that there’s nothing she can’t do.

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