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Malia Obama was caught acting like an 18-year-old at Lollapalooza last month after a video surfaced of her allegedly smoking pot. The video, obtained by Radar Online, shows Obama in the background of another girl’s video looking like she’s smoking a “marijuana cigarette.” (Lol, guys.)
The reactions have come in two strains. First, are the people taking this as proof that: she’s not “classy,” her dad is irresponsible, she’s the first teenager in the world to smoke pot and wear a crop top at a music festival.
Secret Service is having a great week – letting Taliban sympathizers into presidential campaign rallies and Malia toke up LOL
— DanRiehl (@DanRiehl) August 10, 2016
Second, are the people who remind everyone that the girl just got into Harvard. Let her live.
Why y’all trippin?
Malia Obama smoked weed & she’s going to Harvard.
Most of y’all smoke weed & didnt get past 10th grade.
Let her rock b.
— VI Seconds (@visecs) August 10, 2016
Last month, the state of Illinois, where Lollapalooza is held, removed criminal penalties for anyone found in possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana. Instead of jail time or a criminal record, someone found in possession can be fined up to $200. Also, 61 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization.
So any outrage at Malia Obama for smoking pot isn’t really about the pot, it’s about a sense of propriety we expect her to have as a woman (especially a black woman), a person who has been in the public eye since she was a child, and the daughter of the president.
Some of that scrutiny is there for any presidential child (remember the Bush twins?), but the Obama girls have gotten it pretty bad. In 2014, a GOP staffer went on a Facebook rant about the girls’ behavior at the turkey pardoning ceremony, of all the ridiculous things, telling them to “dress like you deserve respect,” to “try showing a little class,” and saying they probably learned their behavior from their parents who “don’t respect their positions very much.”
Anyway, we can’t even be sure it was pot. The government probably has some crazy drugs we don’t even know about.
Jaya Saxena is a lifestyle writer and editor whose work focuses primarily on women's issues and web culture. Her writing has appeared in GQ, ELLE, the Toast, the New Yorker, Tthe Hairpin, BuzzFeed, Racked, Eater, Catapult, and others. She is the co-author of 'Dad Magazine,' the author of 'The Book Of Lost Recipes,' and the co-author of 'Basic Witches.'