Michelle Obama weighs in on the idea of ‘leaning in’: ‘That s--t doesn’t work’

Michelle Obama dissed the idea of the "leaning in," in which women can have a thriving work-life balance with enough effort.
(Mary Altaffer / AP)

Michelle Obama is an accomplished lawyer, author and the former First Lady – but that still doesn’t mean she buys the concept of “leaning in.”

During a stop in Brooklyn on Saturday to promote her memoir “Becoming,” Obama did not hold back as she dished on her thoughts regarding the idea that women can have it all when it comes to their careers and personal lives as long as they try hard enough.

“Marriage still ain’t equal, y’all. It ain’t equal. I tell women that whole, ‘you can have it all’ — . . . nope, not at the same time,” she told the crowd at Barclays Center, according to Vanity Fair. “That’s a lie. It’s not always enough to lean in, because that s--t doesn’t work.”

The “lean in” mantra was popularized by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who penned a book in 2013 titled, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.”


Sandberg also founded a nonprofit of the same name, dedicated to “offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals.”

Obama, 54, laughed off her accidental expletive, joking, “I forgot where I was for a moment!” to cheers and laughter.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sandberg popularized the term with her book in 2013.
(Jose Luis Magana / AP)

“I thought we were at home, y’all. I was getting’ real comfortable up in here. All right, I’m back now. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t work,” she reportedly said.

The Lean In organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sandberg’s book and the idea of a thriving work-life balance was a success upon its release – it remained on The New York Times best-seller list for more than a year – though the executive did admit several years later that she did not believe women had made enough strides in the workplace.

“In terms of women in leadership roles, we are not better off,” she told USA Today in 2017. “We are stuck at less than 6% of the Fortune 500 CEO jobs and their equivalent in almost every country in the world. There were 19 countries run by women when ‘Lean In’ was published. Today there are 11. . . . I think that’s a shame.”

Sandberg added that she had hope the numbers would increase “sooner than we think.”

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, Obama dished on her 26-year marriage to Barack Obama, saying that while the two have a “great” relationship, it’s still hard work – especially when it comes to their two daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“Kids are an interrupter; they mess it all up. Barack and I say that’s why they make ’em cute, ‘cause if they weren’t cute, you’d just leave ’em in a basket,” she joked.