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Malia and Sasha Obama's far from ordinary childhood

The former first daughters were ten and seven when they moved to the White House

malia sasha© Photo: Getty Images
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
March 2, 2023
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As a child, moving from the home you grew up in into a new place is already difficult enough. But for Malia and Sasha Obama, it was even more challenging: after all, in 2008 they were catapulted into the global spotlight and moved from Chicago's South Side to the White House in Washington, D.C.

The children of President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama, the sisters lived the furthest thing from an ordinary childhood, serving as First Daughters for eight years of their young lives. As the first Black POTUS, Barack's time as Commander-in-Chief was historic in a truly unique way — giving extra weight to Malia and Sasha's unofficial roles, too.

The eldest Obama daughter, Malia, now 24, was only ten years old when her father won the presidency against the late Arizona Senator John McCain in 2008, while her little sister, Sasha, now 21, was seven.

WATCH Michelle Obama opens up on life with Malia and Sasha out of the house

MORE: How Michelle and Barack Obama dealt with daughter's very difficult health diagnosis

Their lives, obviously, drastically changed, and though they left the White House in 2017, when they were nineteen and sixteen, they continue to live not unlike they used to when their father was President, under the same privacy and protection. Today, Malia and Sasha live as far away from the spotlight as possible, making rare, if any, public appearances, and neither have public social media accounts.

When it comes to their education, they maintained as normal of a school life as possible, and their parents ensured they attended college, a path not all famous children choose. Malia attended Harvard, while Sasha is set to graduate soon from the University of Michigan.

MORE: Michelle and Barack Obama look 'like teenagers' in sweet Valentine's Day tributes to one another

The eldest sister now lives in Los Angeles, and works as a screenwriter. Most recently, she worked on a new show, Swarm, from Atlanta creator Donald Glover – also known for his musical pseudonym Childish Gambino – and his collaborator Janine Nabers, which will be available on Prime Video.

The Obama family at the 2009 presidential inauguration© Photo: Getty Images

The Obama family at the presidential inauguration on January of 2009

For obvious reasons, there's no denying that Malia and Sasha are far more different than your average celebrity child, but at least when the time came to uproot their lives and move to DC, they had the help from two other sisters that knew exactly what it felt like, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, whose dad, George W. Bush preceded Obama.

When it was time for the Obama family to become the new residents of the historic home, Jenna and Barbara were sure to be there to show Malia and Sasha the ropes, and visited the capital to give the girls an extra special tour of where they once called home.

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Jenna recalls fondly when she first met Malia and Sasha

Back in 2020, for the 12th year anniversary of the special moment, the Today Show host reflected on first meeting the fellow first daughters, taking to Instagram to share photos from her visit, and wrote: "I drove from my job teaching in Baltimore to meet my mom and sister in DC to show the next residents of this house their new home."

She endearingly recalled: "Barbara and I taught the girls how to slide down the banister and all the secrets of the White House we loved as little girls – the best hiding spots, the movie theatre, and bowling alley," adding an adorable photo of the four first daughters and Barbara Bush standing at the top of the hallway ramp they used as a slide.

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