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The First Lady on confidence, achievement and the all-important issue plaguing the female face of a nation: plastic surgery

Michelle to the rescue as Democrats flounder

For nearly two years she has nurtured the executive mansion's vegetable patch, steered a campaign for healthier eating and played the good host on Pennsylvania Avenue. But yesterday America's first lady, Michelle Obama, was plunging back into the muckier business of retail politics.

Michelle beats Hillary in 'most powerful woman' list

Michelle Obama has been named as the world's most powerful woman, ahead of the likes of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Oprah Winfrey. The Queen, however, did not even make the top 10.

Julie Burchill: Forget about romance and you might just get yourself a decent marriage

Romance is surely the greatest capitalist cash-cow ever invented, the gift that truly does keep on giving

DVD: Good Hair, For retail & rental (Icon)

What does it say about black pride when so many African-American women, up to and including Michelle Obama, have their hair straightened with scalp-melting chemical "relaxers", and many more of them wear "weaves" of long, straight, primarily Asian off-cuts?

Carla Bruni books reveal there are two sides to every story

A much-awaited "unauthorised" biography of the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, published yesterday, paints a scathing picture of a vain and selfish woman who neglects her official and charitable work.

President goes for a swim in the Gulf – or does he?

President Barack Obama wanted to convince America that the Gulf of Mexico remains open for business. But perhaps he didn't want the world to catch another glimpse of his hairless chest.

Sophie Morris: I'm with Michelle

When did holidays metamorphose from straightforward stretches of R&R into highly politicised statements? I ask this because Michelle Obama's jaunt to Spain with her youngest daughter, Sasha, and a few friends is being attacked by anyone with an audience, as if it had the significance of the Magna Carta.

Let them eat tapas? Mrs Obama faces holiday fury

First lady returns from trip to Spain in midst of economic strife to find Republicans painting her as a modern Marie Antoinette

A dream that led from dolls to the First Lady

Breaking into an industry as cutthroat and fickle as the competitive world of fashion was never going to be easy but the rise to prominence of a young fashion design graduate from West Africa via East London shows that, with talent, a stroke of luck and a contact as highly placed as Nelson Mandela or Michelle Obama, anything is possible.

Carola Long: Why the Obama seal of approval really counts

For an up-and-coming designer, publicity doesn't come much better than having Michelle Obama wear your clothes. "First wife" or celebrity endorsement can be a mixed blessing but Mrs Obama's popularity and fashion credentials make her a dream ambassador for any brand, especially a new one.

Kate Simon: You'll have to be quick to book for Christmas

There may be 146 shopping days left till Christmas but it's never too early to get those presents sorted if you follow the logic of Selfridges, which opens a special festive concession in its London store tomorrow.

As You Like It / The Tempest, Old Vic, London <br/>Welcome to Thebes, NT Olivier, London <br/>Sucker Punch, Royal Court Downstairs, London

In Sam Mendes' triumphant double dose of the Bard, the comedy is packed with subtle revelations about human nature

Terence Blacker: Unmarried couples are people too

The sickly scent of marital smugness is in the air. Helen Mirren has said the secret of her marriage is loyalty rather than romance. BBC Women's Hour has been solemnly discussing Michelle Obama's idea of "date nights" as a matrimonial freshener. A touching but inconsequential interview with an old couple who had been together for 70 years was run on the Today programme, followed by a discussion with Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Marriage, who explained how healthily married couples would prioritise "we" before "I".

Sarah Sands: Toxic Bush's better half is his best advert

Laura Bush's old-world style will win us over
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A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935