Obama Girl


It was a slow news day (month, really) in 2007 when a not-quite-professional YouTube music video featuring a sexy young girl singing about her love for a certain politician broke out. Before the end of the week, 5 million people had seen Obama Girl gyrate in a bikini next to a superimposed shot of relatively unknown democratic contender Barack Obama, bare-chested in the waves. Presidential candidate as sex symbol? This was a new era, indeed. This was no Swift boat, no cranky senior citizens complaining about health care. Instead we had model/actress Amber Lee Ettinger paired with a catchy tune, a few genius lyrics (“You’re into border security/Let’s break this border between you and me”) and a pair of red booty shorts with “OBAMA” scrawled across the butt. That Obama Girl’s video looked slightly homemade--it was produced on just $2,000--only fanned the flames of media love and grassroots views. More importantly, the message perfectly articulated the cult-like Obama fanaticism that had been building. “It was a metaphor for how young people were head over heels for him for the wrong reasons,” says Ben Relles, the video’s co-creator. Well... maybe not the “wrong” reasons, but certainly reasons not frequently ascribed to politicians--like “hotness.” But such iconic sexual-political imagery is now the stuff of pop culture legend. And so Obama Girl stands--clad in a tight white tee--at the intersection of sex, politics, and the Internet, harkening a new era where elections are young and sexy and fun and underwear doesn’t just sport boring lettering like “Juicy Couture,” but instead, politicians’ monikers. Oh, and one more thing: “Obama’s seen it,” says Relles. “He e-mailed me.” 

Allison is a New York-based writer and the cofounder of lifecasting portal NonSociety.comFollow her on Twitter.