Michelle Obama turns 50, joins retiree advocacy group

Fri Jan 17, 2014 9:21pm EST
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By Mark Felsenthal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Michelle Obama on Friday celebrated a rite of passage for Americans turning 50: getting a membership card to AARP, a national organization that promotes the interests of older people.

The first lady tweeted a photograph of herself, smiling while holding up a card from the group, which with its approximately 38 million members cuts an influential swath in the nation's capital.

"Excited to join Barack in the 50+ club today ... check out my @AARP card," she said in a post signed with her initials.

Her husband, President Barack Obama, is 52.

AARP, previously the American Association of Retired Persons, now goes simply by its acronym. One of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country, it was a strong backer of the president's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

People are eligible for AARP membership on their 50th birthday, even though most Americans do not retire until their mid-60s. But you do not need to be a retiree to join, and getting the group's membership offer, for some, triggers dark humor about the inexorable march of time and the ravages of age.

The first lady is an example of how youthful people still are at 50, said AARP chief executive Barry Rand.

"Not only is Mrs. Obama helping to change and reshape the way people look at aging in this country, but she's also showing folks how great 50 looks today," he said in a statement.   Continued...

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama applauds as she gives remarks at an event on Expanding College Opportunity inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing