Malia Obama has found herself the target of online tabloids for no other reason than behaving like a teenager.
The first instance occurred after video surfaced of the 18-year-old daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama daring to dance while at a concert. Sites like Radar Online published headlines like, “Watch Malia Obama Expose Her Butt & Twerk At Lollapalooza” and “Malia Obama Caught Bumping & Grinding At Lollapalooza In Shocking New Video.” The byline for each read “Radar Staff”—more than likely a cover, since one can only imagine how embarrassed the adult who fixed their fingers to type such a disgusting descriptor for a young girl who only turned 18 one month ago must have felt in that moment.
Inside Malia’s Wild Night! https://t.co/QV3zdcYWmZ— Radar Online (@radar_online) August 10, 2016
For the record, that wasn’t twerking and white people really need to stop abusing that term and send it back to its original owners as they have done enough damage. Sadly, though, that same outlet—which shares a parent company with the National Enquirer, which many people will tell you is quite friendly with Donald Trump—is at it again. This time, the headline is “EXPLOSIVE VIDEO: Malia Obama CAUGHT On Camera Smoking ‘Pot.’” The excessive use of caps lock is supposed to denote that this is a serious story.
Alas, THAT IS NOT THE CASE HERE.
It is very likely that we may all see the legalization, or at least widespread decriminalization, of marijuana nationwide within our lifetimes. Still, even if Malia Obama did hit the blunt, her dad smoked weed and he turned out alright. In fact, the last two U.S. presidents have acknowledged using drugs like cocaine before becoming president. Neither became Rick James.
However, unlike any of them, Malia Obama is merely the daughter of a politician. She is not a politician nor is she a person who chose her celebrity. That means she has every right to behave like a normal teenager because she doesn’t owe anything to any of us.
We are not her constituents. She is not selling us a product. She has every right to live her life as she sees fit. We are mere spectators, and in cases like these, people like these tabloid jackasses trying to exploit her life for clicks ought to look the hell away.
Some have called the criticism of Malia Obama evidence of a double standard, citing when George W. Bush’s daughters were simply branded as “party girls” after receiving citations from police in Texas for underage drinking offenses in a popular Tex-Mex restaurant. But it was just as wrong to invade the personal lives of then-first year college students as it is now to antagonize a teen who just graduated high school. It’s less hypocrisy and more of a bad pattern continuing under a different administration.
During a 2014 appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, Jenna Bush Hager was asked by a caller about the criticism Sasha and Malia Obama received for their demeanor at the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning that took place the week prior. "I'm fiercely protective of them, obviously," she told Andy Cohen. "I don't think that it's easy. It's not a job that they wanted."
While Bush Hager acknowledged that it was a “privilege” to be in such a position as First Daughter, her point still rings true. Malia Obama doesn’t owe anyone a damn thing. Her life may be magnified due to her father’s job title, but her life is not for our consumption. She should be free to live, make mistakes, enjoy herself, and dance offbeat—or right on the beat to Bryson Tiller—whenever she wants.
Do not judge her. Do not feed this exploitative beast when it is once again unleashed on Malia’s younger sister. If I could, I would get her a cigarillo and point her in the direction of new friends who know better than to record her antics to appease gross, gossipy adults who need to go find some real business. Other than that, I don’t care and neither should anyone else.
Leave her be.