Meghan Markle has notched another “first,” becoming the first-ever guest editor of British Vogue‘s September issue, which is out next week. The duchess decided to feature some of the women who serve as her biggest inspirations in its pages, which she’s called “Forces for Change.” Also included in the historic issue is a Q&A she herself conducted with former First Lady Michelle Obama. That interview was published by Vogue this week, and it’s brimming with powerful insights and thoughtful words of advice.
We shouldn’t be surprised: Over and over again, the former FLOTUS and best-selling author has inspired women with her wisdom on marriage and relationships and her enlightened perspective on parenthood. She’s done it again in the interview with Markle.
As Markle writes in the introduction to the back-and-forth, she proposed the interview to Obama “over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump” and emphasized that she’d intended it to be just “a few simple questions to garner a few simple answers.” But Markle was in for a surprise.
“What was sent back to me, however, left me somewhat speechless,” Markle continues. “A few ‘simple questions’ (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative—a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure.”
The Q&A covers the issue of global equality for women and girls, lessons Obama has learned from her years in the public eye, and motherhood—which makes sense given Markle’s status as a brand new mom. Referring to a message Obama sent Markle on Mother’s Day, the Duchess of Sussex asked Obama what being a mom had taught her.
“Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be. Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside. Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own,” Obama answered.
Obama also said that she would encourage her daughters to “keep trying on new experiences until they find what feels right” instead of trying to stick to a path or a set of expectations.
“Becoming who we are is an ongoing process, and thank God—because where’s the fun in waking up one day and deciding there’s nowhere left to go? That’s something I wish I’d recognized a little earlier. As a younger woman, I spent too much time worrying that I wasn’t achieving enough, or I was straying too far from what I thought was the prescribed path. What I hope my daughters will realize a little earlier is that there is no prescribed path, that it’s OK to swerve, and that the confidence they need to recognize that will come with time,” she continued.
Markle asked if that advice would have been different if Obama had had sons instead of daughters, and Obama replied with a poignant response, invoking her own parents. Her advice, she wrote, would have been the exact same:
“My parents, particularly my father, taught my brother and me at an early age to treat boys and girls exactly the same. When I was still in elementary school, my dad bought my brother a pair of boxing gloves. But when he came home from the store, he was carrying not one, but two pairs of gloves. He wasn’t going to teach his son to punch without making sure his daughter could throw a left hook, too. Now, I was a little younger and a little smaller than my brother, but I kept up with him. I could dodge a jab just like he could, and I could hit just as hard as him, too. My father saw that. I think he wanted to make sure that my brother saw that as well,” she said.