Perhaps, in the waning days of Donald Trump's presidency, some people still have some unanswered, burning questions about Ivanka, the president’s eldest (and favourite) daughter, like: Has Ivanka ever been told "no"? Or: Has she always spoken in a monotonous cadence? If you're one of those people, you're in luck, because Ivanka's self-proclaimed former best friend, Lysandra Ohrstrom, revisited their decades-long friendship in a tell-all essay for Vanity Fair.
In it, Ohrstrom explains that she wrote it not only to shed light on whether Ivanka really believed in the things her father says and does, but also to condemn Ivanka to a post-presidency fate worse than death (living in Florida, apparently). “I think it’s past time that one of the many critics from Ivanka’s childhood comes forward — if only to ensure that she really will never recover from the decision to tie her fate to her father’s.” But, all Ohrstrom really does is confirm what we already knew: Ivanka Trump has always been, well, Ivanka Trump.
From the first time they met in seventh grade up through Ohrstrom's role as a maid of honour in Ivanka's 2009 wedding to Jared Kushner, the duo were, the essay and accompanying photographs reveal, closely bonded. Throughout the piece, Ohrstrom recalls example after example of what much of the public already suspected about Trump: Despite pre-2016 attempts to distinguish herself as different from her father, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Her sense of entitlement, staggering elitism, and hunger for power are just as unchecked as her father's. “And of course, she had the Trump radar for status, money, and power, and her dad’s instinct to throw others under the bus to save herself,” writes Ohrstrom.
Ohrstrom says that she and Ivanka were inseparable when they met as young teenagers at their private school, Chapin, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “We remained that way for more than a decade, more sisters than best friends,” she wrote. “Sure, she loved to talk about herself and was shamelessly vain, but she was also fun, loyal, and let’s face it pretty exciting.” It wasn’t until after college that the two began to move on increasingly divergent tracks.
Ohrstrom recalls times in their young adulthood when it became clear the two had different interests. At one point, Ohrstrom recommended Ivanka read Empire Falls, an award-winning book by Richard Russo, about the life of a diner manager in a working-class community in Maine; Ivanka responded, “Ly, why would you tell me to read a book about fucking poor people? What part of you thinks I would be interested in this?” Ohrstrom also recalls a time when Ivanka called her a “Marxist” for disagreeing with her ideas on affordable housing. Ivanka also allegedly made judging jabs at Ohrstrom about being pro-Palestinian; Ivanka converted to Judaism prior to her marriage to Kushner.
It's no wonder their friendship faded (there was a final fall-out after Ivanka failed to adequately acknowledge that Ohrstrom started a new job a day after Ivanka's wedding) — they had clearly grown apart. And it is fun in a gossipy kind of way to read these things about Ivanka. But it's also kind of pointless. Ivanka Trump isn't a bad person because she teases her friend for being Marxist. She's a bad person because she aided and abetted her father’s racist and regressive ideals for years, and has served as an adviser in her father’s administration since March 2017, during which time she has claimed to champion family values even as her father and his administration tear families apart at the U.S.-Mexico border. She has also falsely taken credit for preventing violence against indigenous women on one hand, while portraying herself as the queen of “working women” and repeatedly lying about what the administration has actually done for caregivers on the other.
So who is this essay for, exactly? Is it really for the women who, prior to 2016, welcomed Ivanka into their circles with open arms? Is it a reminder to them that they shouldn't do that again? That Ivanka was always, secretly, just like her father, because as a teenager she cursed and ate cheeseburgers at McDonald's? Maybe. But if those women need to know these kinds of petty details about Ivanka Trump before deciding to shun her permanently, rather than just look at her political record over the last four years, then something is just as wrong with them as it is with Ivanka.