First children, unite! Chelsea Clinton made headlines over the weekend when she defended President Donald Trump's youngest son, Barron Trump, from cyberbullies after the inauguration, reminding Us that she, too, faced criticism while growing up in the White House in the '90s.
As the only child of former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the latter of whom was defeated by Trump in the 2016 presidential election, Chelsea knows firsthand what it's like to live in the spotlight. When her father was sworn in as president in January 1993, Chelsea, then 12, almost immediately became a prime target of media scrutiny as people joked about her appearance. As a result, Bill and Hillary asked the press to treat Chelsea as off-limits.
"In our house, media had its place," Chelsea, now 36, recalled in her former Stanford professor James Steyer's 2012 book, Talking Back to Facebook. "Media consumption, like meals, was a shared family experience. … Those conversations helped me develop a broad and healthy skepticism about the media as well as a respect for its ability … to empower or disempower people."
In April 1995, the first daughter, then 15, made her official public debut when she joined her mother on the then first lady's tour of India. It was then that the media began recognizing Chelsea's intelligence. Two years later, she entered Stanford University, prompting Hillary, now 69, to publish an open letter asking journalists to give her daughter some privacy. Despite the first lady's request, Chelsea had to stay in a high-security dorm room, where Secret Service agents also stayed.
"Thankfully, I had grown up in public life and knew that having thick skin was a survival skill," Chelsea said at a 2012 panel about women in politics. "I do also believe if you have the right type of enemies, you're doing something correct."
While at Stanford, Chelsea's relationships with fellow student Matthew Pierce and former White House intern Jeremy Kane were also hot topics around the same time news broke of Bill's much-publicized affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Despite the scandal, Chelsea continued to show support for her father throughout his impeachment. She also famously held hands with her parents after the affair as they showed the public they were still a united family.
After Bill's two-term presidency came to an end in 2001, Chelsea enrolled in graduate school at the University of Oxford, her father's alma mater, where she obtained a master's degree in international relations. In the years following, she worked at a hedge fund, campaigned for her mother's 2008 and 2016 presidential bids, married investment banker Marc Mezvinsky and welcomed two children, daughter Charlotte, 2, and son Aidan, 7 months.
"My marriage is incredibly important to me," she told The Huffington Post in 2014. "It's the place from which I engage in the world every day, and the place to which I return every day."
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