Michelle Obama Greets 57 with a Fiercely Natural Birthday Photo: 'This Past Year Has Been Difficult'

Michelle Obama entered the 57th year of her life Sunday with a slew of well-wishes from friends and family members.

In a post on her own Instagram feed, Obama shared a black-and-white image of herself along with a message of gratitude for the many birthday messages she received.

"Thank you all for the lovely birthday wishes!" Obama wrote. "I know this past year has been difficult for us all on so many levels, so I just hope you all are taking care of yourselves and finding joy in the smallest moments. Love you all. 💕"

Obama's reference to the difficulties of the past year offered a nod to her outspokenness when it comes to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, her passion in regards to racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the recent attack on the Capitol by a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump.

Her husband, former President Barack Obama, celebrated his wife's 57th birthday with a throwback photo of the former first lady on Instagram and Twitter alongside a sweet caption.

"Happy birthday to my love, my partner, and my best friend. Every moment with you is a blessing. Love you, Miche," Barack, 59, captioned the post.

Soon-to-be First Lady Dr. Jill Biden also wished Mrs. Obama a happy birthday, taking to Instagram to share a photo of the two along with the simple message: "Happy Birthday, Michelle."

The past year has been one of personal growth for the Obamas, who have been spending increased time at home with their daughters, 22-year-old Malia and 19-year-old Sasha, amid the pandemic.

While the family's COVID-19 routine has brought them closer together, the social isolation has also been eye-opening for Mrs. Obama.

In a message posted on Easter, she said the challenges of the year have offered her a "newfound sense of gratitude."

"This year, I've been feeling a newfound sense of gratitude for all the little moments I used to take for granted," wrote Mrs. Obama. "And I know so many of you are also trying your best to make new memories, like attending church online or sharing Sunday dinner over video chat with your relatives."

The former first lady has also been open about the negative emotional impact spurred by the pandemic, saying in an episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast: "Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times.

Adding that she was dealing with "some form of low-grade depression," Mrs. Obama said that the emotions were sparked by both the quarantine and the social and political climate of the country in general.

The sadness, said Mrs. Obama, is "not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife" amid protests sparked by George Floyd's death and that "just seeing [President Donald Trump's] administration, watching the hypocrisy of it day-in and day-out, is dispiriting."

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