First daughters balance privilege and pressure





Life in the White House, however, came at a cost. Johnson and the first children before and after her will always have to "pay a big price in terms of personal time," she said. More than 45 years after she moved into the White House, she still receives requests for interviews about the time she spent there.

But the public's interest in first daughters is nothing new. Fanny Hayes, for example, who was about the same age as Malia when she moved into the White House in 1877, was followed by the media until the day she died. "She was an American celebrity," said presidential historian Doug Wead.

While the interest in first daughters has stayed steady, the pressure on the children has intensified, said Wead, author of "All the Presidents' Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America's First Families."

When Chelsea Clinton was just 13 years old, for example, she was ridiculed in a 1993 "Saturday Night Live" sketch that declared her "not a babe." Actor Mike Myers later apologized, and the skit was cut from replays of the show.

Amy Carter, who was 9 when she moved into the White House, was also mocked for her appearance and for her poor manners, after she pulled out a book during a state dinner. Her parents enrolled her in public school, illuminating the already bright spotlight on her. An infamous photograph of her first day at school shows the young girl with her head hanging low, carrying a Snoopy book bag and surrounded by a swarm of paparazzi.

But other presidential children have taken on power roles in their fathers' administrations. Anna Roosevelt, for example, was a "super aide" to Franklin D. Roosevelt during his last year in office, Wead said, describing her as a combination of a personal secretary and chief of staff, not to mention popular in the public eye.



comments powered by Disqus
History News Network