CBSN

It's not every day Michelle Obama talks about her underwear

The administration has frequently relied on first lady Michelle Obama to relate to the American people, and she attempted to do it again Wednesday by proudly declaring her affection for Spanx, the popular brand of undergarments used by women to slim down.

"We all wear them with pride," she said.

She was praising the company's founder, Sara Blakely, as a role model at the White House Fashion Education Workshop designed to connect students with people in the industry.

"And the most important thing you've got to do is work and work and work and work and work and work. That's it," she said.

"Just take Sara Blakely, for example... she got this idea, and she took a risk -- she devoted her entire savings, $5,000, to start her own company. She spent two years planning and researching her new business ideas in the nights while she was still selling fax machines. She pitched her idea to factories and mills, asking them to help her make the product a reality, and of course, she was turned down again and again and again. But finally, a manager at a factory liked her idea, and today, 14 years later, Sara's idea, Spanx, is a multibillion-dollar company with products selling in more than 50 countries."

Obama told the assembled students, "you belong here," right next to designers Jason Wu, Anna Wintour and Narciso.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.