Americans associate the Fourth of July with fireworks, hot dog eating contests and general patriotism. But for some, there’s an additional celebration. Call it “Forever First Daughter.”
July 4 is Malia Obama’s 21st birthday, and Twitter is aflutter with admiration.
Malia Ann Obama was only 10 and her sister Sasha only 8 when their father, Barack, was first elected president.
For many teens, she was the relatable older sister, as she navigated adolescence on the most public stage in the world and did it with, well, coolness.
Remember when she helped popularize the selfie at her father’s inauguration in 2013? Or when she gave Sasha a supportive thumbs-up when the youngest Obama met Ryan Reynolds? Or when she slogged through her seventh turkey pardoning in 2015, groaning at dad’s Thanksgiving puns?
She performed standard first daughter duties, including volunteering and making public appearances. But she also celebrated teenage firsts unlike any others: She learned to drive with the Secret Service and celebrated her 18th birthday with performances from Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monae at a White House Fourth of July bash.
But eight years in the White House subjected her to intense scrutiny, too. In 2014, a congressional staffer resigned after saying on Facebook that Malia and Sasha, then 16 and 13, dressed like “they deserved a spot at the bar” at the annual turkey pardoning. Malia’s composure won many admirers, including Time magazine, which named her one of its “30 most influential teens” the following year.
She’s set to graduate from Harvard in 2021
After graduating in 2016 from the prestigious Sidwell Friends School in Washington, Obama chose to defer her acceptance to Harvard University for a year, during which she interned for the Weinstein Co. before its founder was accused of sexual assault.
She started at Harvard, where both of her parents attended law school, in August 2017 and is expected to graduate in 2021, the former president said. Obama compared dropping off Malia at her dorm to “open-heart surgery.”
“She’s one of my best friends,” he told Ellen DeGeneres in 2016. “She’s just a really smart, capable person, and she’s ready to make her own way.”
Obama tweeted a message Thursday to mark the national holiday and his firstborn’s birthday, calling the Fourth a “great day in the Obama family.”
And like any father embarrassing his daughter, he shared an old photo of a brace-faced Malia.