Sasha Obama: The First Social Media Superstar Without a Single Account
Unlike other young members of political families—Republican and Democratic alike—Sasha and Malia Obama stay out of the social media fray, hardly even gossiped about, aside from a dating rumor or two. But that’s recently changed for the younger sister, Sasha, who has trended not once, not twice, but three times on Twitter for videos and photos that have made the rounds on the web.
It all started on TikTok, when a quickly deleted video of the 19-year-old lip-syncing to a City Girls song blew up on her friend’s account in October. It was the first candid glimpse of the daughter in some time, reminding people that she had grown up and was, unsurprisingly, very cool. Seeing her have fun with friends was a balm, however fleeting, for pre-election anxiety.
Then, in early December, she went viral on TikTok again, dancing front-and-center in another friend’s video, which was also deleted after it went viral. It’s not farfetched to think that Sasha knew what she was doing. The other TikTok had gone viral just a month before. Rather than thinking this time would be different, I like to imagine she was going this as a purposeful wink. She knew it would blow up—and knew it would quickly disappear.
Sasha Obama. That’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/ag2JvjErbJ— 𝘽𝙇𝘼𝘾𝙆 𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙀𝙎 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙀𝙍. (@blkgirlsrelate) December 14, 2020
But the internet being the internet, it seems as if Obama may be losing control of the narrative. In the few weeks since her latest TikTok, two different photos of someone resembling her wearing a colorful crop top, layers of jewelry, and great fingernails have surfaced. If they weren’t supposedly of Sasha Obama, they would be normal party photos. Instead, they’re celebrated, criticized, scrutinized from every angle as evidence for whatever it is one wants to think about a young woman belonging to, well, one of the most scrutinized families in American history.
(The photos are such a phenomenon that they’re not just driving conversation about Obama herself: Some described a man standing in the background of the latest photo as scary or intimidating, sparking accusations of colorism like this one.)
In short, Sasha Obama has social media capital—and all the downsides it entails—to rival the biggest celebrities, without a single public account to her name.
Sasha Obama going viral for just existing will always sit right w me— yosnier (@Yosnier_) December 14, 2020
Is there any precedent for this kind of a shadow social media presence? Is Obama the first-ever person to figure out how to combine old Hollywood mystique with frenzied internet obsession? Is she, in short, living in 3021 while we all drift into next year, trifling around with our Instagram dumps?
Of course, every time one of these videos or pictures surfaces, masses of people immediately Google “Sasha Obama Instagram,” so if she ever decides to create anything other than a finsta, we will all instantly—officially—be forced to bow down.