Michelle Obama's Power Moves

How the first lady got to the top of Forbes' list of most powerful women.

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by Nia-Malika Henderson

What a difference a year makes. In 2009, Forbes magazine ranked First Lady Michelle Obama the 40th most powerful woman in the world. But this year she grabbed the top spot.

To get there, Obama leapfrogged over her billionaire pal Oprah Winfrey; took out Beyoncé, who sang for the Obamas' first dance at the inaugural ball; and bested Lady Gaga and her high-fashion meat dress.

How to explain Obama's power surge?

Forbes says that she essentially wrote and filled her own job description by striking a balance between the low-key but highly admired Laura Bush, the co-presidency approach of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the fashion sense of Jackie Kennedy. All the while, Obama has managed to kept her street cred: Name another first lady who has taken shovel passes in New Orleans from ex-NFLer Eddie George and described dancer Judith Jamison as "fly."

Here are five first-lady power moves, key moments that help explain her rise to the top:

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