Wouldn't it be a blast to be famous? You're loved by millions of people who don't even know you, and get special VIP treatment everywhere you go. But living in the spotlight can be rough, too. You have one bad hair day or say something weird in an interview, and the critics and haters start making cruel, unfeeling remarks. They often defend their criticism by saying things like "Hey, she's famous...she can take it." And to some extent, they're right. Most famous people develop a thick skin to deal with anything hurtful or mean that's said about them. This doesn't excuse the cruelty, but -- let's be honest -- celebs and public figures have to learn to ignore the bullies if they want all the perks of fame.
But what if a person doesn't want to be famous? What if they have a private life, and then suddenly find themselves in the spotlight, overnight? And what if the glare of that spotlight was totally brutal?
That's just what's happening to Laura and Alba Zapatero, sisters who are 16 and 13 years old. In many ways, these girls are just like you and your friends. They have favorite movies, bands, and books, and they have their own style. But these girls also happen to be the daughters of the Prime Minister of Spain. While visiting New York City last week, Laura, Alba and their mom and dad posed for a photo with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Like many photos of the US President, the portrait was made public on a website, and picked up as news.
Only there was a little problem...Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero never wanted his daughters to live a public life, and with the help of a Spanish privacy law, made sure that no photos of his girls had ever been published. He wanted his daughters to have the same privacy as any other normal teenagers -- the chance to live their lives without the whole world watching. Once he realized that the pictures were on the Web, he tried to have them removed, but it was too late. Despite all of the Prime Minister's attempts to safeguard his daughters' privacy, the world got their first look at Laura and Alba. And some people who saw the pictures decided to be really, really mean.
People saw these two teen girls with a famous and important father, and got angry that Laura and Alba don't look like their idea of "Prime Minister's daughters." So they started tossing around labels, criticizing the girls' choice of clothing, jewelry, and haircuts. You know how it goes...you've probably seen kids in your school get picked on for the way they dress, or for being "too skinny" or "too fat." You've heard people lumping kids into certain groups or cliques, some of which have less status than others. It happens to millions of young people every day, and it hurts.
Only for the Zapatero sisters, it's happening on a huge, huge scale. They aren't being teased by a few bullies in school...they're being teased by people all over the world who think that these girls are fair game just because they have a famous dad! Maybe Sasha and Malia Obama are better off. Because they're seen regularly in press photos, they'll probably feel pressure over the next few years to appear a certain way...but at least they (hopefully) won't be publicly ridiculed.
What do you think? Should Laura and Alba have to deal with all this because of their father's job? Was their dad wrong for trying to shield them from the public in the first place? How would you feel if people all over the world saw your picture for the first time, and decided to judge you based on that one photo? Have you ever been judged on your appearance? We want to hear your thoughts. You can also check out our section on online bullying (which is basically what's happening to the sisters!).