As President Obama delivered his farewell address Monday, it was clear to the crowds watching the outgoing First Family that Malia – more than anyone there – will leave the White House transformed.
Just six months ago the 18-year-old appeared to be in the middle of a fierce rebellion, being filmed twerking, apparently smoking marijuana and partying alongside a massive bong.
That in itself was a vast change from how she first appeared in public in 2008 – the confident, precocious young girl happily waving to the crowds as her father accepted his historic nomination into the Oval Office.
But on Monday as the family left Washington DC and headed to Chicago it was clear she had changed again: Gone were the denim cut-offs and midriff-baring T-shirts of summer, replaced by a chic wool coat and smart black boots.
And as the 6’1′ young woman strode beside her parents, she looked as much a glamorous, mature, political mover-and-shaker as either of them.
Malia cried as her father said in his final address to the nation: ‘Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion.
‘You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.’
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Malia cried as her father said in his final address to the nation: ‘Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion’
Barack embraces his wife Michelle after paying tribute to her and his daughters Malia, pictured, and Sasha. Obama told his daughters: ‘You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad’
All smiles: Malia takes to the stage with her mother and father after he delivered his final address to the nation
From left, Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, first lady Michelle Obama and Malia Obama, standing for the national anthem before Obama delivered his final speech
Obama had said that he feared his daughters might ‘develop an attitude’ during an interview with abc on Monday. Above he embraces Malia
Mom Michelle hugs Malia on stage Monday. She was just 10 years old when she moved into the White House
Grown up: Malia (seen Monday on her way to Chicago with White House staff) has become the model of a chic young professional woman – taking after her mom and dad in every way
While Malia looked on and cried from the front row of Chicago’s McCormick Place, younger daughter Sasha was notably missing during her dad’s big moment.
The White House later commented that the 15-year-old stayed at home in Washington DC because she had a test at school the next day.
But the hashtag ‘#wheressasha’ had already started trending, and social media was rife with fantastical theories.
Devin Corrigan, tweeting under the handle @official_devinc, wrote: ‘You know Michelle’s the kinda mom who’s like “GROUNDED MEANS GROUNDED” #wheressasha’
Others joked that she was busy playing the game Candy Crush, or watching the TV show This is Us.
On Monday Barack Obama opened up to ABC about what it was like seeing his daughters grow up in the White House, and the fears he had that they might ‘develop an attitude’.
‘All I can say is they have turned out to be terrific young women,’ the proud father said. ‘They are sweet, kind, funny, smart, respectful people, and they treat everybody with respect.
‘You know, we feel pretty good when… they go to other folks’ houses and when the parents say, “Oh, you know, Malia, she’s just so sweet,”‘ he said.
Malia was 10 when the family moved into the White House; Sasha just seven. But both of the girls adapted quickly to growing up in a very unusual environment.
‘They complained about Secret Service as they became teenagers,’ Obama said. ‘But as you might imagine, if you’re a teenager having a couple of people with microphones and guns always following you around, that could grate on them. But they’ve handled it with grace, and I give Michelle most of the credit for how well they’ve done.’
Diplomat in training? Malia looks as much a political figure as her mom and dad in this photo, as they head to President Barack Obama’s farewell ceremony in Chicago
Transformation: Today, Malia is a strong young woman who looks to be on her way to her coveted career in Hollywood – but this is only the result of eight years – some easier than others – spent growing in the public eye
But it wasn’t just the world inside the White House they had to worry about – it was the world outside, and the glares of crowds and flashes of cameras that came with it.
In their earliest appearances in public, Malia, always seemed the more confident of the two. Almost as tall as her mom – even at the age of just ten – she was always happy to give the cameras the sparkling smile she inherited from her dad.
In her clothing, though, she toed the party line, looking to her mom for style cues – such as the coordinated red numbers they wore for their father’s election day, or the adorable pink dress she wore for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Smile! Malia looks confident on camera as her mom hugs her at an election night gathering in 2008. Malia was just 10 – and Sasha seven – when her family moved into The White House
Daddy’s girl: Malia grins in 2008, as she joins her father – then an Illinois senator – at the Democratic National Convention. In those early days she was always seen in carefully coordinated clothing – notice how her lacy dress matches Obama’s tie
Dressing down: Malia (seen left in 2009 and right in 2012) wore a tomboyish, simple look outside of official engagements in her early days. In 2010 she got braces, which her dad said made her feel more like his little girl – despite her then-5’11” height
Away from the limelight, though, Malia cut a more relaxed figure in those early years, wearing flat sandals and jeans in a tomboy look.
She also came out from under her mom’s shadow at formal events, dropping straight-laced looks for flowing dresses in colorful hues.
In 2010 Malia – at that point almost as tall as her father – suffered like so many other teens when she had braces fitted. That came as a relief to Barack Obama – or so he told the Associated Press.
‘Even though she’s 5’9″ now, she’s still my baby,’ he said. ‘And she just got braces, which is good, because she looks like a kid and she was getting … she’s starting to look too old for me.’
Malia still followed her mom’s trends as she grew older – aided, no doubt, by the rows of designers eager to give the Obamas their clothes.
But as their father entered his second term in office, she started to get into the swing of her teenage years – and began to push her way out of the nest.
Growing up: Malia (seen left in 2012) fashioned her own style as she grew up, pairing boots with skirts and dresses – and perhaps began to show a little more attitude in public events, too, such as the 2014 turkey pardoning (right)
Iconic: In 2014, one fashion expert said the then-16-year-old had eclipsed her mom as a style icon. Here the First Family – including Michelle’s mother Marian, top-left, arrive in Beijing in 2014
Stepping out: Malia (seen here in 2015 visiting Downing Street, the home of the British Prime Minister) blossomed into almost as much of an ambassador as her mom, joining the family on official visits abroad
Support: Malia went viral in 2015 after this photo emerged of her giving Sasha a supportive thumbs-up as her younger sister plucks up the courage to talk to Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds at a state visit to Canada
In 2014, designer Gregory Parkinson announced that ‘the torch has been passed’ from Michelle to Malia – then 14 – after he spotted her in a string of stylish ensembles.
Lucky magazine’s executive fashion director, Alexis Bryan Morgan, agreed, telling USA Today: ‘I’m hard pressed to think of anyone, period, who had such great style potential at 14.
‘She has all the elements that make a great fashionista. It’s really exceptional.’
Morgan added: ‘She’s smart in that she seems to be aware so many eyes are on her. [But] her style seems very genuine. … She’s adding her own twist and having fun. You can’t really have style unless you’re being true to yourself.’
The long limbs she inherited from her father stood her in good stead as she donned everything from flowing ballgowns to effortlessly chic jeans-and-jackets combos.
And while Barack Obama had admitted to ABC News in 2012 that seeing his daughter looking grown-up unnerved him, he said he didn’t expect things to get too messy as Malia continued into her teenage years.
‘I’m not anticipating complete mayhem for the next four, five years,’ he said. ‘But I understand teenagehood is complicated. I should also point out that I have men with guns that surround them often.’
As it turned out, his prediction of complications was right on the money.
Party time: In August 2016 Malia was snapped allegedly smoking a joint (right) at the Lollapalooza music festival. Not long after she was seen at a party with what appeared to be an enormous bong (left)
Shut up and dance: Malia was also seen at the 2016 edition of Lollapalooza dancing with crowds (left) and twerking (right) at sets by international DJs
In 2014 and 2015, Malia made steps towards her ambition of working in Hollywood when she accepted intern jobs on the sets of TV shows Extant and Girls, respectively.
But the strides she was making as a young professional only made her party adventures the following year all the more surprising.
In August last year Malia was filmed apparently smoking marijuana at the Lollapalooza music festival.
Witnesses assured reporters that the then-18-year-old was indeed puffing on a joint. Illinois – the state where she allegedly inhaled the drug – had recently decriminalized weed.
She was also seen at a party from around that time next to what appeared to be a massive bong.
She was also spotted twerking to Norwegian DJ Cashmere Cat with friends in a midriff-baring top and cutoff denim shorts.
Her father, who has admitted to smoking weed and doing cocaine (as he put it, ‘a little blow’) in his college years, didn’t have too much room to complain.
However, those images of a girl who grew up in the public eye living life as a regular teenage girl shocked many in America.
But that was then, and this is now – and it’s quite clear from the images that Malia has finally grown into her parents’ daughter.