The XX Factor

Hillary Clinton Should Be a Teen Advice Columnist If She Doesn’t Win the Election

Hillary Clinton’s comms team gives the best advice.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Because we like our presidents like we like our blankets, the Hillary Clinton campaign has jumped at any opportunity to show off the candidate’s warmer, softer side. Little girls love Clinton, so Clinton recently agreed to a few Q&As with young writers whose heartfelt questions let her put on her inspiring-role-model hat.

In the process, Clinton has stumbled upon a viable back-up career: advice columnist.

Earlier this month, the candidate corresponded with Marley Dias, the 11-year-old girl who set out to collect 1,000 books about black girls, for Elle. Clinton told an adorable story of giving herself a bad haircut to try to fit in; their conversation resembled a guidance counselor’s soothing chat with an insecure teen.

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Clinton is back in comforter mode (see? blankets!) in a Q&A published today in Rookie, the online magazine for alterna-woke adolescent girls. The questions, sent in by readers, include a few emotionally complex and politically fraught issues. Clinton answered them all with the no-shame understanding of a teen magazine editor and the calming wisdom of a grandmother who really gets you.

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“HEY, HILLARY! I love you so much, and I know you can beat Donald Trump,” wrote in Lulu from Virginia. “I just want to ask you how you keep so calm during the debates. I’m like swearing and about to punch someone and you’re just smiling and it’s amazing!” You and me both, Lulu! “Lulu, you are very kind, thank you,” Clinton responded. “Honestly, it took some work. I prepared for those debates, and part of the preparation was just thinking through all the outrageous things he might say, just to acclimate myself to them. I didn’t want him to shock me, and for the most part, he didn’t. So take it from me—visualization works!” The same advice, we assume, can apply to test preparation for a high schooler: Imagine your blue booklet inviting all the women who’ve accused your husband of sexual assault to sit in the front of your classroom. Then, when it merely calls you a “nasty woman” on test day, you’re golden!

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Clinton continued: “Having said that, in some ways, I’ve been preparing for those debates for a long time—like, for decades. I’ve been in some pretty high-stress, highly visible situations, where if I got too emotional or lost my cool, it would have been bad. So I’ve gotten a lot of practice in the art of staying calm, thinking before speaking, deep breathing, and not automatically showing how I feel.” This is a fabulous understatement, calibrated for adolescent understanding. “If I got too emotional or lost my cool, it would have been bad” actually means “If I so much as raised my voice or wrinkled my brow, the entire middle of the country would have started screaming for my imprisonment.”

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One 20-year-old aspiring computer programmer wrote to Clinton via Rookie that she suffers from imposter syndrome because her peers imply that companies will only hire her to fulfill gender diversity requirements. “I know how you feel, Kiley. Boy, do I,” Clinton wrote, recalling a previously-told anecdote of men taunting her and a friend while they took their law-school entrance exam. “In moments like these, it’s easy to doubt your abilities. And when someone says you got to where you are just because you’re a woman, that really hurts. But know this: You are where you are because you’re talented and you work hard. Just because some people don’t want to see that doesn’t change that one bit.” Clinton doesn’t know anything about Kiley or her abilities, and that doesn’t matter at all. Sometimes, you just need a powerful woman to remind you that people can be judgy jerks and their opinions don’t need to rule your life.

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Speaking of jerks, 16-year-old Deanna wrote in asking Clinton for help responding to male classmates who harass her for being a feminist. “Oh no, Deanna. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this,” Clinton began. Clinton recommended that Deanna ask someone she trusts for help if she feels threatened—classic teen advice columnist move—and advised her to tell the harasser that plenty of men (like Tim Kaine!) are feminists too. Not sure that line will work with any high-school bully, but her other bit of wisdom, “Don’t let the haters get you down,” applies to any and every teen conundrum.

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Clinton advice for Deanna is particularly heartwarming because it reads like something Clinton might have liked to hear in her youth:

In my experience, whenever you take a stand for what you believe, there will always be people who disagree with you. That’s especially true, I think, for women. So please know that you’re in good company. Believe me, every strong woman you admire who has worked to make our world a fairer place has faced opposition along the way. It’s usually a sign that you’re doing something right.

This has been a very special episode of Clinton for president 2016.

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