Michelle Obama recalled "the name-calling, the doubting" that shadowed her and caused her sleepless nights as her husband ran for president in 2008.
In an address Saturday to the graduating class at Tuskegee University, Ala., Obama said she was forced to answer questions that were unique to her because of her race.
"As potentially the first African-American first lady, I was also the focus of another set of questions and speculations, conversations sometimes rooted in the fears and misperceptions of others: Was I too loud, or too angry or too emasculating?"
She noted other episodes, the cover of the New Yorker that showed her with a huge Afro and a machine gun, the reporting of a "terrorist fist jab," when she fist bumped her husband after a primary win, and how she was once referred to as "Obama's Baby Mama."
Instead, the first lady said that she kept her sanity by having faith in God's plan for her.
"Because no matter what happened, I had the peace of mind of knowing that all of the chatter, the name calling, the doubting -- all of it was just noise. It did not define me. It didn’t change who I was."
Obama was the second first lady to visit Tuskegee, a historially black university that was founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington.