Ways the Obama sisters' lives will never be 'normal'

The Obama sisters, Sasha and Malia, lived in the White House for eight years where they transformed from two little girls into successful young women before our eyes. At first glance, you may think the Obama sisters have it all. Sasha and Malia — who turned 17 and 20, respectively, in 2018 — have an elegant beauty, millions of dollars at their fingertips, and loving parents who are happily married. But growing up in the White House and being the daughters of the former president of the United States doesn't come only with bells and whistles. Sasha and Malia have learned that being recognized isn't always good, and going through some of the most awkward years of your life in the limelight can make a teen's transitional period that much more cringeworthy.

There are many setbacks and oddities that come with being the daughters of the president, making Sasha and Malia's lifestyle anything but typical. Here are all the reasons why the Obama sisters' lives can never be called "normal."

Going to music festivals is never just a casual thing

Chicago is home to music festival Lollapalooza and it's where the Obama sisters spent much of their childhood before moving into the prestigious White House. Malia, who's no newb to the music scene, was first spotted at Lollapalooza in 2014, when she watched Chance the Rapper perform (via Intelligencer). But her attendance in 2017 was far more memorable, as she made headlines after two videos of her were leaked by TMZ

The first video was taken during The Killers' set. While Malia reportedly stayed backstage for most of the show, she made one big — or should we say killer — impression when she arrived on the public grounds headbanging and smashing her fists on the grass to the beat. If that wasn't enough, the young girl who wore a white T-shirt and jeans was recorded again as she was escorted out on a golf cart and appeared to be nodding off. 

But Malia isn't the only sister who made Lollapalooza headlines that year. Sasha attended the fest, too, and was caught locking lips with a guy she'd allegedly just met. But while the two girls made the news for their behavior, might we remind everyone that they were just acting like average teens? Nothing to get riled up about!

Their Facebook posts serve as clickbait

Clickbait is a term that Malia Obama has been associated with far too often. The young woman was attending her sophomore year at Harvard when a photo that expressed her dislike for Donald Trump from her private Facebook account was leaked, as reported by News.com.au. The photo, which surfaced in February 2019, featured Post-it notes with handwritten messages reading, "Donald Trump is evil" and "Don't be complacent." Malia's name made headlines across the globe with one intention — to get clicks (via The Washington Post). 

In retrospect, a young woman posting her opinion through Post-it notes is a tame way to express her disapproval of Donald Trump. Trump himself has expressed his opinions in far more aggressive ways — like when he called Hilary Clinton a "nasty woman" on live television and stated that no one would vote for Carly Fiorina because of her face (via The Telegraph). Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton came to Malia's side during the chaos with a supportive tweet, writing, "Malia Obama is a private citizen. No part of her life should be anyone's clickbait."

Everyone has an opinion about their wardrobes

Apparently no one ever told Elizabeth Lauten, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it." The former communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher blasted the Obama sisters for their clothing choices in an open letter she posted to Facebook, as reported by International Business Times. In response to the mid-thigh-length skirts they wore to the 2014 White House Thanksgiving ceremony, she preached about how she thought they were dressed for a bar and weren't relaying a position of respect.

IBT reported that Lauten's Facebook post read, "Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you're both in those awful teen years, but you're part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play." She went on, "Then again your mother and father don't respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I'm guessing you're coming up a little short in the 'good role model' department." Regret soon got the best of the cyberbully, and rightfully so, as Lauten fessed up for her wrongdoing and publicly apologized on Facebook (via The Washington Post). Lauten also soon resigned from her GOP role. 

The Secret Service taught Malia to drive

Most people have a nostalgic memory of their first driving lesson. Usually it takes place in an old Cadillac with Ma or Pa in the front seat as they cautiously let you take the wheel in the parking lot. For Malia Obama, the story went quite differently. She first grabbed the wheel with neither parent in the front seat, but rather the sharply dressed Secret Service. Although it's not clear what type of vehicle she first took a spin in, we can only imagine it was far more luxurious than the old beater most of us used.

Michelle Obama admitted who taught Malia how to drive during an interview with chef and TV host Rachael Ray. "The Secret Service [taught Malia], actually, because they wouldn't let me in the car with her," she explained. But Michelle probably didn't regret her inability to share the precious moment with her daughter. She was first to reveal she hadn't been behind the wheel in "seven or eight years" at the time.

They had dolls named after them

Ty Inc., the toy company known for making Beanie Babies, released two dolls in 2009 that strikingly resembled the Obama sisters, as reported by Today. The dolls had dark skin and brown eyes and just so happened to carry the names "Sweet Sasha" and "Marvelous Malia." Just one big coincidence, right? Ty denied that the dolls had any affiliation to the Obama sisters and said they simply chose the names because they're very pretty names (via HuffPost). The sisters, who were 7 and 10 at the time, were too young to speak up for themselves and most likely couldn't grasp the issue at hand. But that didn't stop Michelle Obama from red-flagging this marketing no-no.

"We believe it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes," the First Lady's spokeswoman stated, according to Chicago Business. While most kids would kill to have a doll named after them, doing so without permission is neither sweet nor marvelous. Ty responded to the First Lady's disapproval by retiring the original dolls' names and selling them under different monikers.

They're viciously attacked for their success

If you think of the Ivy League schools in the United States, chances are Harvard University will be at the top of your list. Accepting less than 5 percent of applicants, Harvard continues to be one of the most sought-after schools with many prominent alumni — including Barack and Michelle Obama. Following in her parents' footsteps, Malia was accepted to Harvard in 2016. While most people would celebrate this victory, many people clouded her success with negative remarks and racial slurs.

Fox News published an online story about her acceptance and the comments section was flooded with hate speech. Things became so brutal that Fox News eliminated the article's comment section altogether. AOL reported one commenter cruelly hoped for Malia to get seriously sick. In the 21st century, we should be praising a young person's eagerness and dedication to pursue their dreams by heading to college. Bashing a teen's accomplishments only exposes bad blood and portrays the idea that we don't want to succeed as a nation.

Their embarrassments are made public

We all remember those awkward teen years when we wanted absolutely nothing to do with our parents — you know, the days we told our parents to drop us off down the block so we weren't seen with them. Like any other teenager, Sasha and Malia Obama have had similar eye-rolling reactions to their mom and dad, but, unlike many of us, they were called out for their behavior. From Barack's signature Turkey Day jokes to his appearances at teacher conferences with his machine gun-carrying Secret Service (via Yahoo! Lifestyle), being the daughter of the President definitely had its embarrassing moments.

For Malia, one of the most notably embarrassing moments was when her prom date came to the White House to meet her parents. In Michelle Obama's book Becoming (via Glamour), she explained that Malia requested, "Just be cool please, OK?" Perhaps her famous folks followed her wishes but they went a bit overboard, as the duo met Malia and her date while Barack wore flip-flops and Michelle was barefoot. Yikes!

Sasha wore a designer dress for her Sweet 16

Most women look back on their Sweet 16 photos to remember a time of bad makeup and awkward fashion choices. But Sasha Obama, who celebrated her 16th birthday in 2017, is a different story. She graced her birthday party wearing a slinky, long red dress designed by Jill Jill Stuart and a thin gold necklace, as reported by Harper's Bazaar. According to Business Insider, the dress cost between $286 and $398, depending on the site from where it's ordered. And well, that kind of price tag would break the bank for many 16 year olds. But for a daughter whose parents have an estimated net worth of $40 million, that's just pocket change.

The dress Sasha wore to her birthday party is far from the most expensive dress she's worn. She wore an embroidered Naeem Khan gown that retailed for nearly $20,000 to the White House State Dinner in 2016 (via People). While most teens are shopping at Hollister and Forever 21, Sasha is wearing beautiful gowns that cost more than some colleges' yearly tuitions. Her keen outfit choices have crowned her as a fashion icon by many, including R&B superstar Drake.

Their everyday problems are sometimes praised

It's easy to forget that stars are actually real people too. Sometimes they seem so high above us on a paparazzi pedestal that we forget that they eat, breathe, sleep, and lose their iPhones just like the rest of us. After rocking out hard to The Killers at Lollapalooza, Malia Obama was seen at an Apple store buying a new phone with her clan of secret service escorts, as reported by Page Six. If you thought things went easy breezy for her, think again.

A witness told Page Six, "Malia came into the Apple Store to get her iPhone replaced, but things didn't go exactly [as planned]. The Apple Store couldn't immediately help her because she didn't have the Apple ID or the password for the missing phone, since the White House set it up." Yes, even Malia can't remember her Apple ID! The media praised her for her iPhone loss by making it a hot news topic. Perhaps this makes all of us average people feel special knowing we shared something in common with Malia, but we never made headlines for losing our cell!

They get mega selfie requests

Some people dream of fame, but apparently Sasha and Malia never did. During a Q&A with Roxanne Gay (via People), Michelle Obama explained that her daughters did not wish for a famous lifestyle but still had it handed to them. And with fame often comes the request from strangers for attention or selfies… lots and lots of selfies. Perhaps the "pics or it didn't happen" mantra has gotten the best of many who have encountered Malia Obama, as she reportedly receives 20 to 30 requests a day at Harvard.

It's not easy growing up in the spotlight, and Michelle is the first to address the struggles her daughters have sometimes experienced. She explained that she's very proud of her girls for approaching strangers with kindness when they try to chat with them or snap a photo. As former First Daughters, it can be incredibly hard to catch a break or maintain your own personal space in public places. Luckily for the Obama girls, they are able to react to the attention with style and grace.

Malia got slammed for underage drinking

College is often considered to be a gateway to independence. As young adults move away from their parents and head to parties, it's only a matter of time before alcohol comes into play. But what is a normal matter in most college students' lives often causes quite the uproar when politics are involved. The Daily Mail photographed Malia sipping on a bottle of $80 rosé in a sleek black one-piece during her Miami vacation in February 2019. The issue at hand: She was only 20 years old. Conservatives were quick to take to Twitter to label her behavior as inappropriate and privileged. Poor Malia — can't we just let the girl have a proper vacation?

This wasn't the first time that Malia had been pegged for underage drinking. In 2015, The Daily Caller recovered a Snapchat of her playing beer pong at Brown University. BuzzFeed reported one student's tweet, which read, "Malia Obama was taking shots and playing beer pong at a party last night LOL."

They've been vacation-shamed

Everyone needs a vacation every now and then to reset. But apparently if you're the Obama sisters, you're not allowed to. At least that's what Rep. Steve King preached to a caller on an Iowa talk show (via Think Progress). The caller barked that President Obama should have been cutting unnecessary expenses and noted that sending his daughters on vacation wasn't "acceptable." King agreed with the caller's words, saying, "He sent the daughters to spring break in Mexico a year ago. That was at our expense, too. And now to the Bahamas at one of the most expensive places there. That is the wrong image to be coming out of the White House."

Shaming two children, who've been brought up in a far-from-ordinary environment, for going on vacation is not a good look for a grown man. No matter the destination, people should be allowed on vacation without judgment and with no questions asked — especially if they have to deal with the stresses of being First Daughters. 

They are bashed for their food choices

Even after the Obama family was out of the White House, they still received racial backlash in 2017. Nearly four months after they were settled into their new Washington D.C. estate, Michelle Obama shared how Sasha and Malia spent their last night in the White House: hosting a pizza party sleepover with eight of their friends. According to Today, the former First Lady revealed, "They had a sleepover, because of course on Inauguration Day, because my girls are so normal, they're like, 'Well, eight girls are gonna be sleeping here because it's our last time, and we want pizza and we want nuggets.' And it's like, really?"

What sounded like a fun, light-hearted sendoff to the White House was soon barraged by racist remarks to a story published by MSN, as noted by The Grio. For Sasha and Malia — who were 15 and 18, respectively — pizza and nuggets seemed like an acceptable choice for a sleepover — not a reason for people to spew hateful insults regarding their choices.

Malia's gap year sparked a conversation

Before heading to Harvard in fall of 2017, Malia Obama took a gap year that was a hot topic of conversation across the country. While some people commended her decision, some critics expressed their belief that a gap year is spent wasting away precious time to sleep in and avoid responsibility. But Malia's gap year wasn't spent in a lazy fashion of any sorts. She spent the year as an intern at The Weinstein Production Company (before the infamous Weinstein scandal) and even worked on the hit TV series Girls. When she wasn't working, she was globetrotting to places like Peru and Bali, as noted by The Chicago Tribute.

While some believe a gap year can have risks, the trend to take a year off after high school is gaining popularity and is even endorsed by Harvard University. Although gap years are more common overseas, Malia's decision to take one helped bring the topic to a U.S. audience and to encourage other young adults to do the same. Sounds like people could learn a thing or two from the Obama sisters.