When you think of the typical 18-year-old, you probably picture someone who loves music and parties, going out with friends and who’s curious about trying new things, even when it’s something their parents might find kind of questionable. Experimentation and making mistakes are normal parts of growing up, but when you’re the president’s daughter, people tend to take your youthful adventures a lot more seriously than they should.
Last month, Malia Obama attended the Lollapalooza music festival in Illinois. She danced with her friends, caught the ire of online pearl clutchers when she shook her booty like basically any teenage girl who’s ever gone to a music festival and, this week, sparked even more outrage after video surfaced of her smoking something that looks an awful lot like marijuana.
Because of the video, people are taking Malia to task for not being “classy,” shaming her parents for not being able to control her and even comparing her to the Trump kids in an effort to show that the Obama girls don’t measure up as appropriate role models. One Twitter user posted a screen shot of Malia next to a photo of Donald Trump’s children and wrote, “Yikes: Malia Obama caught smoking pot. I’ll take the man who raises successful entrepreneurs over marxist pot heads.”
Seriously, people, can she live?
Malia may be the president’s daughter, but she’s still an 18-year-old kid. In fact, she’s an 18-year-old who’s grown up under a microscope and faces a lot more pressure than most, and she’s handled her life in the public eye with much more awareness, grace and class than we usually expect from people her age. Part of the reason this whole thing is supposedly so shocking is that it’s the first time in eight years that we’ve actually seen Malia let loose or act anywhere close to how a “typical” teenager behaves.
The fact of the matter is, teenagers go to music festivals, dance and sometimes even try pot. Many of us did it when we were young, and so did our parents. We have every reason to believe our own kids will behave in exactly the same way at least a few times in their lives. Do we love the idea of our children partying as teens? Of course not, but it’s kind of a hallmark of being a young person.
As much as we’d all like to believe that the teens we know and love — either our own kids or the president’s — would never sip a beer or smoke a joint, that’s just not reality. Remember back in 2001 when George W. Bush’s twins were caught drinking underage? Teenagers are going to act like teenagers, no matter who their parents are, and they don’t deserve to be shamed for it.
Malia Obama is definitely not the first teen to smoke pot or a cigarette — or whatever else was in her hand, since it hasn’t even been confirmed that she did anything wrong. She certainly won’t be the last 18-year-old to do it either. Let’s all try to remember what it was like to be young and curious, and stop acting like a little teenage experimentation is a national emergency.
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