Michelle Obama's Not Allowed to Drive Herself, Can't People-Watch at Cafés: 'We Still Live in a Bubble'

In an at-home interview, the former first lady reveals how she navigates public spaces

The Obamas’ lives have changed drastically since they left the White House in January 2017, but there is one aspect that has remained stubbornly constant: the lack of anonymity.

In a sit-down interview with PEOPLE, former First Lady Michelle Obama discusses her new memoir, Becoming, and what life is now like outside the confines of the 9-bedroom house in Washington, D.C., she shares with her husband, former President Barack Obama, 57, and their younger daughter Sasha, 17. Their eldest daughter Malia, 20, is currently attending Harvard University.

“We don’t have the anonymity that allows you to be in the world with normalcy,” Mrs. Obama, 54, says. “I go to restaurants, I still work out and travel, but I can’t sit at a sidewalk cafe and just watch other people without it becoming a scene.”

Miller Mobley/foureleven.agency
F:PHOTOMediaFactory ActionsRequests DropBox40453#getty186016449.jpg
The Obamas in 2013. Afp/Getty

She has ruled out wearing a disguise.

“Then somebody’s gonna say, ‘What’s Michelle doing in that wig and those glasses?'” she says with a laugh. “So I think a disguise would only backfire. I’d be in some tabloid magazine: ‘What’s she trying to do—what’s wrong with her? That’s crazy!'”

For the full interview, pick up the current issue of PEOPLE, on stands this Friday

Miller Mobley/foureleven.agency

Asked if the Secret Service allows her to drive her own car now, she shakes her head. “No driving for me. We still live in a bubble.”

The former first lady. Miller Mobley/foureleven.agency

“If we had a farm somewhere, maybe I could drive around it,” she explains, but acknowledges that the package bomb discovered on Oct. 24 in her husband’s mail drove home the need for continued security. “As we’ve seen, the risks are still there.”

Related Articles