A curious thing happened Monday on the Internet. A grainy photo of a 16-year-old wearing a hip-hop group’s tour T-shirt was posted on said group’s official Instagram account. Breaking news, right? Well, the teenager in question was one Malia Obama, the first daughter of the United States, whose private life is quite purposely keep offline.
Teenagers wear T-shirts. This is a thing that happens. But when you’re a teenager living in the White House, a T-shirt is never just a T-shirt. It’s a stamp of approval! It’s a political statement! It’s definitive proof that you’re going to college on the West Coast! Despite the media’s hands-off rule when it comes to first children, for some reason Malia’s T-shirt choices are rarely viewed as five-second “clean or not” decisions. There is always something more to be divined.
So let’s dive in.
First thing’s first, the picture is absolutely real. In it, Malia is wearing a white T-shirt bearing the Pro Era logo. For those not in the know (us included), Pro Era is a Brooklyn-based hip-hop collective lead by 19-year-old rapper Joey Bada$$, who was recently charged with assault during a tour stop in New Zealand.
According to a rep for Mr. Bada$$, the picture “is not photoshopped. They got the photo from a mutual friend of one of the guys in the group.” So here’s the teenaged friend tree: a pal of Malia’s is also buds with a member of Pro Era, and that shared friend forwarded the photo of the first daughter to the group. Got that? The Pro Era rep declined to name the mutual friend or the specific group member and didn’t know whether Malia knew the photo would be used on the group’s social media accounts.
Not surprisingly, the East Wing did not return a request for comment, which is standard practice when it comes to the first daughters. What is surprising is that the photo is still up on the Pro Era Instagram account. Remember this summer when a paparazzo, who probably couldn’t believe his luck, snapped a photo of Malia at an L.A. hot spot and tried to sell it through a wire service? The White House allegedly asked that those photos be taken down. And they were.
In the epoch of the social media, not all photo evidence can be so easily scrubbed. In August, Malia was spotted at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago and posed for a fun photo that made its way around the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that the Pro Era team isn’t bracing itself for a call from the White House.
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