Nearly five years after moving into the White House, Michelle Obama could not look more at home. Posing in the formal Green Room, she appears both relaxed and invigorated, embracing the undefined (and undefinable) roles of Spouse in Chief, Role Model in Chief, and Mom in Chief. But it’s the last one that makes the first lady shine brightest of all. Put her in a room with kids—whether her own or the nation’s—and she glows. In fact, at the second annual Kids State Dinner on July 9, Mrs. Obama beamed at the success of 54 students who won a nationwide competition, sponsored by Epicurious.com, to develop creative, delicious, and healthful recipes.
An outgrowth of her Let’s Move! program to curb childhood obesity within a generation, the State Dinner (which happened at lunch) featured dishes like Lucky Lettuce Cups and Bodacious Banana Muffins, as well as an appearance by her husband, whom she playfully tweaked for admitting he’d hated vegetables as a kid. As she sat with Parade the following day, Mrs. Obama was regal in a magenta sheath yet so down-to-earth that she quickly fluffed the cushion of an antique couch between photo takes. No longer sporting the bangs that caused such a sensation (“You know, it’s hard to make speeches with hair in your face!”), the first lady spoke to us about her second-term goals for her childhood obesity fight, her maturing family, and her dreams for America’s children.