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President Obama Worries About Malia, Sasha, and Beauty Standards in the Media

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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President Obama is like any other dad, and he's worried about his daughters and the exacting beauty standards put out there by the media.

As part of the President's wide-ranging interview with ballerina Misty Copeland and Time magazine, he discussed the pressure faced by young girls, especially African American girls, to look a certain way. He also talked about how he and First Lady Michelle Obama are trying to guard against that for daughters Sasha and Malia:

I mean when you’re a dad of two daughters you notice more. When I was a kid I didn’t realize as much, or maybe it was even a part of which is the enormous pressure that young women are placed under in terms of looking a certain way. And being cute in a certain way. And are you wearing the right clothes? And is your hair done the right way. And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women. But it’s part and parcel of a broader way in which we socialize and press women to constantly doubt themselves or define themselves in terms of a certain appearance. Michelle and I are always guarding against that.

Luckily, the girls have a great role model. "And the fact that they’ve got a tall gorgeous mom who has some curves, and that their father appreciates, I think is helpful," Obama said.

Obama thinks things are changing for the better in some ways. "You see Beyoncé or you see some of these pop stars and what both white, Latino, black children are seeing as representative of beauty is much broader than it was when I was a kid," he said. "You just didn’t see that much representation. And that’s healthy and that’s encouraging."

It's still a challenge though, he said:

I mean Malia’ll talk about black girl’s hair and will have much opinions of that. And she’s pretty opinionated about the fact that it costs a lot, it takes a long time, that sometimes girls can be just as tough on each other about how they’re supposed to look. And so it’s, as a parent, that’s a constant learning process that you’re trying to hold the fort. And that’s why somebody like Misty ends up being so important.