Over the weekend, Malia Obama probably came to a couple of mixed realisations.
The first being that events like Lollapalooza, the Chicago festival she attended over the weekend with friends, are a lot of fun. A lot more fun than the Democratic National Convention, which she decided not to attend in favour of being with her mates.
The second realisation would’ve been a little more of a comedown. Now she’s 18 and her father Barack Obama is nearing the end of his presidency, her protective cocoon has burst. She’s fair game.
By this, I mean photos of Malia dancing and being merry — photos most young women have appeared in at some stage — are now splashed across every corner of the internet.
— Alex Lao (@alexanderlao) July 29, 2016
Sadly, a lot of the content is weighted with an accusatory and unfair tone. “Look away, Mr President! Malia Obama twerks and grinds with friends while getting loose at Lollapalooza,” reads one.
Another points out that: “Malia Obama skipped DNC to party at Lollapalooza.”
One publication helpfully adds: “Malia also playfully lifted up her skirt while dancing at one point to reveal a pair of boy shorts underneath.”
Grinds? Twerks? Reveals underwear? I couldn’t really see much evidence of that in the photos.
YASS! Get it #MaliaObama! Can anyone guess what song I caught her vibing to at #lollapalooza?! See full video by clicking link in my bio! http://tiny.cc/jbyfdy A video posted by AC The Plug ???? (@actheplug) on
All I could see was a very fresh 18-year-old (her birthday was on July 4) enjoying herself. Dancing to Cashmere Cat’s set. Hanging out with friends. Wearing shorts — highly practical festival-wear, if you ask me — and singing along to the songs.
Let’s not forget, she also would’ve had a handful of secret service men surrounding her at all times. But aside from the security, that’s fairly bog-standard festival etiquette to you and me.
Yet the coverage about Malia we’ve seen over the past day or so is dripping with a “gotcha” vibe that’s soggy with judgement and misogyny. That a young woman in Malia’s position shouldn’t be acting this way.
How could she ditch her family who were making important speeches to the nation in favour of a dirty festival?
How could she “grind” and “twerk” in public?
How could she walk out of the house in the short-short variety of pants she was wearing? (Post continues after gallery.)
Malia’s life as she knows it is changing. Fast. With adulthood and her impending freedom from the shackles of 24/7 White House security comes another type of round-the-clock surveillance.
One where her every move, every facial expression, the events she chooses to go to, the university she eventually attends (Harvard, FYI), the people she’s friends with, the clothes she wears, will be up for scrutiny. Fodder for publications that delight in trying to catch you off guard.
There’s no use saying “back off Malia, her life is none of our business”. She knows what she’s in for. Any attempt to evade it is futile.
This weekend, the eldest Obama daughter would’ve come to the stark realisation we all knew was coming — that her life from here on is more “public property” than it ever has been.
Do you think the coverage on Malia Obama has been fair?