The twin daughters of George and Barbara Bush sound a chilling alarm for Barack and Michelle Obama’s daughters.
Twins Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush understand the stress that goes along with being the first children of presidents and the rigors of navigating life before and after the White House. Today, as women with families and careers of their own, Jenna and Barbara are revealing their greatest fears for Malia Obama and Sasha Obama in their new lives as private citizens.
The twins’ first introduction to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was during their grandfather, George H.W. Bush’s single term in the White House, which was from January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993. The Bush twins were 7-years-old, and it was the period of their lives that they can best identify with Sasha Obama and Malia Obama. It was their age of innocence.
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush recently published a book, “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.” As part of their book tour, the Bush sisters sat for an interview with HuffPost as part of its “Build Series.”
During their chat, Barbara and Jenna talked about the pitfalls of being young first daughters in the public’s eye for most of their developing years. They shared stories about the rigors of dealing with the media, adhering to White House decorum, and remaining grounded as they transitioned from kids to adults as part of a family dynasty in the modern era of Republican politics.
Jenna and Barbara’s father’s two terms in office spanned from Jan. 20, 2001 – Jan. 20, 2009. They were 19-years-old when they became first daughters.
As the New York Times wrote, as part of its interview with Jenna Bush and Barbara Bush on their book tour, the sisters endured ceaseless headlines about their transition to college after Barbara enrolled in Yale, and Jenna went off to the University of Texas.
They both were criticized for getting caught up in the campus life by unlawfully consuming alcohol. Next, came the grueling headlines and tabloids, some which bestowed monikers on the twins that attracted unwanted attention to the Bush presidency, as the Times reported.
“‘Jenna and Tonic’ was a headline in The New York Post. People magazine went with ‘Double Trouble,’ while Newsweek opted for ‘Busted Again in Margaritaville.’ They were embarrassed, yes, but also frustrated by what they insist were exaggerations in many accounts.”
Sasha and Malia, who some believe were held to a higher standard than Trump’s children, were not exempt from the growing pains in their teenage years despite being members of an elite family at the time. For instance, Malia, the older of the two, came under fire when images surfaced on social media that showed her at a house party near a bong and allegedly smoking marijuana at an outside venue.
Other images and footage surfaced post-White House that showed Malia was gyrating on the ground during a Lollapalooza festival months ago. The younger Sasha, while not involved in as much controversy as her older sister, was seen in a photo around the same time reportedly “making out” with a stranger in public.
Jenna and Barbara penned the girls a moving open letter when Barack’s term expired. They reminded them of how they went through the same transition to public life and warned them that they would continue to face challenges in their new lives.
Jenna and Barbara told Malia and Sasha they empathized with them about ongoing “harsh criticism of your parents by people who had never even met them.” Both Bush sisters admit that Barack and Michelle were “reduced to headlines.”
Today, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush have another message for Sasha and Malia. Now that the girls are out of the White House, Jenna and Barbara warned them about the unfriendly grip of social media and online bullying. Currently, Sasha is wrapping up her high school years, and Malia recently enrolled at Harvard University,
Barbara and Jenna understand that technology has changed very quickly since their father’s term ended, and they, unlike Sasha and Malia, didn’t have to fend off online trolling. What is more, they are also dealing with the public discourse that can be “ugly” at times, as Jenna said.
“[It’s changed] the way we talk to each other. People who don’t have the guts to say something cruel to your face can sit somewhere and write it and that’s too bad, you know? As a mom, I think, it enables people to talk in a way that I wouldn’t want my girls to listen to.”
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush tout their embrace of feminism. They understand that their gender is under attack from all sides, and party affiliation doesn’t impart buffers. As Jenna added, they want Malia, Sasha and all women of the world to know the dangers constantly lurking in the shadows. At the same time, they remind them of how perseverance overcomes the negativity.
Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush talk about being twins – and growing up in the White House pic.twitter.com/XFmoH6Ng0p— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 25, 2017
“No matter what political party you’re in, the year for women has been a difficult one. And we thought, ‘You know what? If every woman had a sister, whether that means a colleague or a friend ― it could be a man ― just somebody that empowers them, then maybe we would be in a little bit of a better place.’ There’s so much divisiveness and negative energy so we wanted to add a little bit of our positive, which is that women can really be incredible if we’re doing our job right.”
[Featured Images by Stephen Lovekin/Olivier Douliery- Pool/Getty Images]