Fraser and Marian Robinson welcome their second child, Michelle LaVaughn. Fraser, a pump operator (who dies of complications from multiple sclerosis in 1990), and Marian, a stay at home mother, raise Michelle and her brother Craig in their South Side Chicago home. "There's nothing magical about my background," she tells Vogue in 2007. Adding to Essence in 2009, "I always felt that my father and my mother were unconditionally rooting for me."
Michelle joins Craig (a star basketball player) at Princeton University, before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1988. Working as a lawyer at a Chicago firm, she mentors summer associate Barack Obama in 1989. Michelle eventually falls for the Hawaii-bred community organizer turned lawyer, with whom she attends meetings in church basements. "He connected with me and everyone in that church basement ...The authenticity you see is real, and that's why I fell in love with him," she tells Essence.
After dating for three years, Michelle and Barack tie the knot. The bride and groom choose Stevie Wonder's "You and I" for their first dance, and of their vows, Michelle says: "Barack didn't pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he delivered."
After leaving corporate law to work for the city of Chicago, Michelle gives birth to Malia. In 2001, they welcome another daughter, Natasha (a.k.a. Sasha). While juggling two kids, Michelle blossoms at the University of Chicago, becoming vice president of community affairs at the medical center. She often credits her mother Marian for helping her raise her girls.
Before taking the stage to give the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack – an Illinois state senator – gets some words of wisdom from his wife: "Just don't screw it up, buddy." And he doesn't, delivering a goose bump-inducing speech on hope and unity that sets the stage for his political career. Barack goes on to win a seat in the United States Senate.
Sen. Obama declares he's running for President. "What I'm doing is articulating what I see. This is my life. This is what I see in my world," she says of her role in the campaign. Calling Michelle "my rock," Sen. Obama credits her for keeping him grounded. When he beats Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, the couple fist-bumps onstage.
After being criticized for saying, "For the first time in my adult life, I'm really proud of my country," Michelle softens her image as cohost for a day on The View. But it's her White House/Black Market dress that has women snatching the affordable frock off the racks. The influential style magnet goes on to cause a stir with her mix of high and low fashion, her svelte arms and her bold color choices on the campaign trail.
After 135 million ballots are counted, Sen. Obama beats Sen. John McCain to become the first African American man to be elected President of the United States. "I was proud as a wife, amazed as a citizen," she tells Vogue. "I felt a sense of relief, a sense of calm, that the country I lived in was the country I thought I lived in."
In a ball gown by young designer Jason Wu, Michelle dances with her husband for the first time as the 44th President of the United States at the Youth Inaugural Ball. While grooving to Beyoncé Knowles's rendition of "At Last," the President shares a tender moment with his wife, resting his head on her shoulder. He tells the crowd of the dance, "That's what we call old school."
The First Lady makes her cover debut on Vogue. "I love clothes," Michelle, who's often compared to Jacqueline Kennedy, admits. "First and foremost, I wear what I love. That's what women have to focus on: what makes them happy and what makes them feel comfortable and beautiful. If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library; Courtesy Obama Family; Obama For America; John Gress/Reuters/Corbis; Ed Reinke/AP; Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images; Steve Fenn/ABC; Jae C. Hong/AP