American princesses

How Sasha and Malia Obama's lives are about to change.

By Kate Harding

Published November 7, 2008 8:30PM (EST)

The blog Michelle Obama Watch has been referring to Sasha and Malia Obama as the "weeMichelles" since it launched, and now that adorable title seems more appropriate than ever. It's not just Mom who's the style icon anymore -- Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that stores across the country were selling out of the Biscotti Inc. dress Malia wore on Election Night, and that Gerson & Gerson Inc., maker of Sasha's dress, has been calling retailers to let them know it'll soon be coming out with a new version of the dress. ("The Sasha," natch.)

Unfortunately, becoming instant trendsetters and getting a new puppy aren't the only side effects of being the president-elect's daughters. Today, the Chicago Tribune looks at how the girls' lives will change after they move into the White House next January. In the pro column: An in-house swimming pool, movie theater and bowling alley. In the con column: The unrelenting attention of the press and public. Though Michelle has publicly vowed to ensure the girls "have some level of normalcy," historian Sandra Musgrove says that's pretty much impossible. "Their lives are not going to be normal. It's not normal to be a president's child. When your father is the president, you're royalty in this country."

I'm as conflicted about my desire to watch Sasha and Malia grow up over the next four -- hopefully, eight -- years as I am about my unhealthy interest in their mother's wardrobe. Pictures of and stories about them delight me nearly as much as that Piper Palin video, but I'm uncomfortable with the fact that I have such access to the lives of little girls who aren't my nieces or friends' kids -- especially when at least one of them is going to hit puberty, with all the awkwardness that entails, while her dad's in office. (Let's hope she has Chelsea Clinton on speed dial.) So far, the Obamas have done a good job of shielding their daughters from too much scrutiny, but it's a whole new ballgame now -- and I know I'm not the only one who has found myself turning into the American equivalent of an obsessive royal watcher because the Obama girls are just so darn irresistible. Fortunately, unlike Chelsea and Amy Carter, Malia and Sasha will at least have a sibling on hand to share in this life-altering experience. I hope the "weeMichelles" can keep each other sane and keep themselves out of the spotlight as necessary, even if it means I don't get my ovary-twitching fix of first-kid pictures quite as often as I'd like.

Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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