Michelle Obama is leaning away from leaning in.
In a surprise turn, and without mincing words, the former first lady succinctly dismissed the philosophy popularized by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg during an appearance this weekend before an audience of 19,000 at New York’s Barclays Center.
“That whole ‘So you can have it all.’ Nope, not at the same time,” Obama said Saturday during the event to promote her new memoir, "Becoming." “That’s a lie. And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.”
Obama apparently surprised the audience by saying “shit.”
“I forgot where I was for a moment!” she said. “I thought we were at home, y’all. I was gettin’ real comfortable up in here.”
Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, coined the phrase “lean in” in her own book by that name. Sandberg’s philosophy posits that women themselves have to take charge in the workplace to encourage workplace equality. The idea has been harshly criticized since the book’s publishing in 2013, though it propelled Sandberg to household-name fame.
Facebook and Sandberg, in particular, are facing a huge controversy over the social network’s hiring of a Republican-leaning PR firm, called the Definers, to smear billionaire philanthropist George Soros. At first, Sandberg denied knowing anything about the Definers, though she later acknowledged that this was false. She also said she never meant for attacks against Soros to be anti-Semitic.
“I also want to emphasize that it was never anyone’s intention to play into an anti-Semitic narrative against Mr. Soros or anyone else,” Sandberg wrote. “Being Jewish is a core part of who I am, and our company stands firmly against hate.”
Obama’s “Becoming” charts her life from childhood in Chicago to being the first black first lady in the White House. Obama and her husband secured a joint book deal shortly after Barack Obama finished his presidency, for a reportedly huge sum of money, about $65 million.
Throughout the tour, Obama has also been notably critical of President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania — for instance, Obama says she offered to help Melania during the transition but never received a response. Obama also wrote in her memoir that she would never forgive Donald Trump for his role in the birther conspiracy theory about Barack Obama.
“What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls?” Obama wrote in " Becoming." “Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.”
Cover image: NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama signs copies of her new book 'Becoming' during a book signing event at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, November 30, 2018 in New York City. The former first lady's memoir has sold more than 2 million copies in all formats in North America during its first 15 days on the market, according to a statement released on Friday by Penguin Random House. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)