A former drug dealer turned rapper turned businessman by the name of Jay Z once posed a simple question: can I live? The phrase has since been co-opted by everyone, from those in the industry, like J. Cole, who eventually signed with Hov's label Roc Nation, to your friends on the internet who like to present the inquiry to their timelines, in jest or in seriousness.
I'm co-opting it now, to make a very serious request: Can we let Malia Obama live?
While Barack was busy with the Democratic National Convention last year, Malia was at Lollapalooza, enjoying the fuck out of her young life. She danced, she probably hit a joint, the world freaked out—and she moved on.
If you haven't heard the latest, the eldest daughter of our forever First Family attended Lollapalooza again this past weekend. (The Obamas do rep Chicago, so no big surprise there.) At one point, attendees recorded Malia dancing excitedly with a friend to the Killers. She even started rolling around on the ground, which I personally thought was lit. Express yourself, I say.
In a newly released TMZ video, however, Malia is seen being carted away from the festival, looking either super tired or super faded, or both.
Enter yet another wave of criticism of the young girl. But let's try to put things into perspective. The Obama daughters have never really been allowed to wild out. The upbringing of Sasha (who was just spotted making out with a bro earlier this week) and Malia reminds me of the way preachers' daughters are raised: to be quiet, ladylike, and respectable, and to be a good example of an upstanding citizen to literally everyone around you.
But that's not how personal growth and development works. Living a restricted adolescent life can lead to a sheltered adult life, or more likely, a phase of extreme acting out. (Or you might just end up falling in the boring middle of the road, but sit down, this conversation isn't about you.) My point is, if you don't know your limits, you can't push your limits. It's harder to take responsibility for your own actions when you've never had the chance to act.
In an open letter featured in Time in January of this year, Barbara and Jenna Bush, former First Daughters themselves, very sweetly praised the Obama girls for being poised and gracious throughout their eight years in the White House. And then, they gave some very sound advice about how they can and should move forward—into their teenage years, and beyond.
Enjoy college. As most of the world knows, we did. And you won’t have the weight of the world on your young shoulders anymore. Explore your passions. Learn who you are. Make mistakes—you are allowed to. Continue to surround yourself with loyal friends who know you, adore you and will fiercely protect you. Those who judge you don’t love you, and their voices shouldn’t hold weight. Rather, it’s your own hearts that matter.
We watched them grow up, so we feel like we're entitled to an opinion about them. Newsflash: we're not. Their lives are not our business. For once, I think we should follow the Bushes' lead. Let's let the girls grow into women. Let's let them live.