Why Malia Obama's dancing is none of your business

Now she is 18 years old and has graduated high school, she will be considered ‘fair game’ - and it’s wrong

Rachael Revesz
New York
Sunday 31 July 2016 20:24
Ms Obama was simply letting her hair down and having a good time
Ms Obama was simply letting her hair down and having a good time

Happy birthday, Malia Obama.

She has not even been 18 for one month and the media sensation around her - as a woman, with - gasp - the body of a woman - is in full swing.

Having graduated high school, the president’s daughter will no longer enjoy that protective wall of "childhood" which does a relatively good job at keeping the media at bay.

Much like other candidates’ daughters before her, including Chelsea Clinton, she is in for a rude awakening as she becomes fair game in the eyes of the public.

There are more than 17 million Google search results for Malia, and around half that number for her 15-year-old sister Sasha.

A video of her dancing - some are calling it “twerking” - is already going viral. She chose to attend the Lollapalooza in Chicago, instead of going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, like any young adult would.

In the video, girls in the crowd are screaming their appreciation as Malia smiles and dances along. They are delighted that she, the president’s daughter, is just like them. This is the same girl who prompts a reported White House "security probe" when she takes a selfie.

Obama lays into Trump during Democratic Convention speech

But the decision to skip the convention has caused upset among conservatives, and will no doubt give most media outlets a reason to zero in on those dance moves.

The notion that a young woman can enjoy herself at a festival! And the audacity that the president’s daughter can act so care-free while her parents are giving moving speeches about her and her sister Sasha at the Democratic National Convention!

This is not the first time she had gone to the festival. Nevertheless, the New York Post, along with many other publications, has gone berserk. ABC was harassing a teenage boy about whether they could use his pictures of her at the concert with the Secret Service in tow within minutes of him uploading it.

It’s wrong. The obsession with Malia Obama, from what she wears, to her 18th birthday party and her internship with Lena Dunham last summer, is being fueled by misogyny and bigotry, by people who believe young women should act in a certain way.

Perhaps, if she's going to dance, it should be more of an awkward shuffle? If she's going to dress up, surely it should be a buttoned-up cardigan and jeans, and God forbid she show her midriff.

While she was letting her hair down, her mother was telling the story of how her two daughters have grown up in the White House.

"I also told you about our daughters, how they are the heart of our hearts, the center of our world," said Michelle Obama. "And during our time in the White House, we’ve had the joy of watching them grow from bubbly little girls into poised young women, a journey that started soon after we arrived in Washington."

With only six months left in Washington DC, it will not be long before Malia and her sister are freed from personal bodyguards and bullet-proof cars. She will have a gap year and go on to Harvard University, and hopefully continue to retain some semblance of a normal life.

But the media scrutiny of Malia, what she says, how much skin she shows and how she dances, is not going away any time soon.

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