We Can't Ignore Claudia Conway
Platforms like YouTube and TikTok have massively broadened the umbrella of fame. One of the most recognizable dance crazes of the past year comes not from a music video, but a 14-year-old girl in Atlanta who debuted it on TikTok. While five years ago it would have felt inappropriate to write about a 16-year-old’s love life, it’s now commonplace because Charli D’Amelio’s 80 million followers are going to talk about it, anyway.
But for all the ways fame and media has been reshaped by TikTok these past two years, we still don’t know what to do with Claudia Conway. The 15-year-old daughter of Kellyanne Conway, (soon-to-be-former) counselor to president Donald Trump, first blew up on TikTok in June thanks to her outspoken support of Black Lives Matter and bold anti-Trump statements. (Her father, George Conway, has also become known for his own vocal opposition to Trump.) In an interview with Business Insider shortly after her quick rise to fame, she referred to her mom as a “badass.”
"I love my parents," she told the outlet. "They are the most generous, most well-educated people I have ever met. I look up to them and want nothing but success and good fortune for them. They are my parents and that trumps all—no pun intended."
But over the past couple months, Claudia’s relationship with her parents seemingly soured. In July, after earning over 600,000 followers, she posted that her parents were forcing her to delete her social media accounts. Inevitably, perhaps, she returned. In a number of videos since, Conway has referenced attempting suicide, undergoing investigations from Child Protective Services, and an alleged instance in which her mother got her arrested. On Saturday, she announced on Twitter that she is going to pursue emancipation from her parents.
“My mother’s job ruined my life to begin with,” she wrote. “Heartbreaking that she continues to go down that path after years of watching her children suffer.”
The next day, both Kellyanne Conway and husband George Conway announced plans to leave their positions at the White House and the conservative anti-Trump organization the Lincoln Project, respectively, in order to focus on family. In a statement, Kellyanne claimed that moving forward, things would be “less drama, more mama.”
In the midst of all this, the media has been scrambling to find the “right” way to cover claims made by a 15-year-old. In response, the term “She’s 15” is trending on Twitter, with people debating the merits of covering the young Conway’s life, which, were she like most children from politically prominent families, would otherwise remain private.
“She’s 15,” one user wrote. “Let’s keep kids out of it.”
“This is why abused children don't speak out, bc of people who write them off due to their age and say they're just looking for attention,” another user rebutted.
Regardless of age, the daughter of a political figure seeking emancipation is news, and her claims of abuse worth hearing. If we’re going to cover the allegations from minors against Tony Lopez and the YouTube video about abortion from teen star Danielle Cohn, then the words of Claudia Conway should be taken just as seriously. It’s less appropriate to speculate, encourage, or revel in the news, but Conway’s cries for help are no less valid because they’re uncomfortable to watch. It’s an uncomfortable, painful situation—but it’s only because of her platform that her voice was finally loud enough to be heard.