First ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush share stories about White House life

Michelle Obama and Laura Bush traded jokes about life in the White House during an African First Ladies summit in Tanzania on Tuesday.

The two women discussed what it's like to live in the fishbowl that comes with being married to the president, where their every move — and haircut — is chronicled.

Obama noted that "while people are sort of sorting through our shoes and our hair — whether we cut it or not ..."

"Whether we have bangs," Bush interrupted as the crowd laughed.

"Who would have thought?" Obama responded of her much-commented haircut. "I didn’t call that one."

The two women kept up a friendly banter during the panel discussion, which was sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute. 

The summit was a chance for Obama, Bush and African first ladies from across the continent to discuss women’s education, health and economic empowerment.

During the conversation, Obama complimented Bush and her staff for making the transition easy, noting how hard it is to come into the White House on that first day.

"I remember walking into that house, and I didn’t even know where the bathrooms were," she said. "But I had to get ready for a ball."

She added: "You can't find your toothpaste; you don’t know where your kids are. So that’s day one."

The two also talked about being put in a box as first lady.

"I constantly get asked, especially in the first term, are you more like Laura Bush, or are you more like Hillary Clinton?  And I'm like, 'Is that it'?" Obama said.

Bush noted she got similar questions: "Are you Hillary Clinton or Barbara Bush? And I always just said, well, I think I'll be Laura Bush; I do Laura Bush pretty well, having grown up as her."

But the first ladies also talked about the work they were able to do during their tenure on issues they are passionate about. Bush discussed her work for women in Afghanistan and starting a National Book festival, and both women stressed the need for more childhood education.

While they were meeting, President Obama joined his predecessor, former President George W. Bush, at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, for a ceremony honoring the victims of the 1998 embassy bombing.

The appearance at the African First Ladies Summit was Obama's last during her six-day African trip. The Obamas return to Washington later Tuesday.