TODAY   |  January 17, 2014

Michelle Obama is changing what 50 means

As the first lady prepares to celebrate a milestone birthday, NBC’s Kristen Welker reports on Mrs. Obama’s growing influence as an icon for fitness and personal style.

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>>> by the way, the leading trend on twitter right now in the u.s. is actually our hashtag fifty today. we thought this is a time to look at 50 and how the age has changed. let's look at the first lady's milestone and kristen welker is at the white house with that. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning to you. in a little over 24 hours , there's going to be a huge dance party here at the white house . and guests are getting ready for a long night. the first lady just one of many people proving 50 isn't what it used to be.

>> good morning. thank you, everyone.

>> reporter: the first lady facing a new chapter in life. she made no mention of her big day during an event at the white house thursday. but her other half did.

>> it's her birthday tomorrow. keep that in mind.

>> reporter: and as michelle obama welcomes the milestone, fashion experts say she's changing the face of 50.

>> she's making 50 very vibrant, very energetic, very individualistic.

>> reporter: and individuality that has translated into her sometimes edgy sense of style. from the dresses on capitol hill to j. crew and couture, obama has never been afraid to mix it up.

>> she's made it very clear she's going to dress as she wants to dress, not as a sort of washington political wife in the typical uniform.

>> reporter: initially reluctant to raise two daughters under such a harsh spotlight, experts say it's clear the first lady has now found her footing.

>> i think michelle obama has really come into her own in the last few years. and i think the reason why is because she has this almost perfect sense of balance in her life.

>> reporter: a balance she attributes to her healthy lifestyle. a mix of cardio and yoga. and through her let's move initiative, she leads by example encouraging kids and adults to be fabulous at 50.

>> i think that she's setting a perfect example for not just women but for men, too. there's absolutely no reason why you can't be healthy and great looking at age 50.

>> reporter: so what's next? well, the first lady has indicated after she leaves the white house , she'll continue her work on initiatives like improving education. but politics doesn't seem to be in her future. as for today, i am told she will spend it with family as she gets ready for her big bash tomorrow, an event billed as dancing and dessert. can you say splurge,