Essence.com
Dec, 16, 2009

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Parents across the country are smiling to themselves. Suddenly their tween daughters are lamenting for something other than tickets to a Jonas Brothers concert or to see the latest flick about Hannah Montana. Girls these days just want to have fun...with the First Daughters. The Obama girls—Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7—have even stirred young tech-savvy girls to create fan sites, blogs and Facebook pages all dedicated to the them. Their popularity goes beyond race, religion, location and even socio-economic standing. Girls across the country are really starting to look at these two as more than just the President's daughters. They're looking at them as role models and maybe one day, even potential friends.

It's something momentous for Rhonda Joy McLean, Associate General Counsel of Time, Inc. (a Time Warner company) to see that two little African-American girls wield so much power. After all, she grew up in Smithfield, North Carolina, during a time when fear stood in the way of assimilation. As one of three Black girls at the age of 13 to integrate Smithfield High School and suffer the ramifications of awful taunting and harassment, McLean could never have imagined a Black president, let alone two of his daughters, would one day live in the White House.

"From a child's perspective, it seemed like an almost inaccessible place for children of color," says McLean. "The fact that there are now beautiful, strong, bright, young ladies being reared in the White House is a very powerful thing."

Without any official data, McLean believes that the First Daughters are allowing Black girls to see themselves differently—as girls who can have hobbies, contribute back to their communities, are confident and comfortable with the way they look, eventually allowing girls around the country to become well-rounded women. If President Obama should serve two-terms, the long-term influence of his daughters could indeed have amazing results.

"I'm hoping that it will contribute to an upward trend in true diversity for the country," says McLean. "These girls allow us to expand our standards for all children and most particularly for girls. That includes beauty, intelligence and even embracing a more diverse sense of girlhood so all girls will start believing that anything is possible."

As they grow older, blossom into young women, and find their true paths, Malia and Sasha Obama will inevitably continue to guide the ambitions of young girls everywhere, much to the contentment of many parents who see that the girls are being raised with discipline, compassion and poise.

 

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