I get the Vanity Fair emails so I know when they’re dropping some big story. I spent all day yesterday avoiding VF’s big story of the day: “Ivanka Trump Was My Best Friend. Now She’s MAGA Royalty.” I avoided it because who cares, especially at this point? The Trumps lost. Hopefully some or all of them are going to jail. They will absolutely be social pariahs. And they absolutely find their MAGA base disgusting. So why am I here? Well, we had some requests for coverage and I also chanced upon a brief summary of the piece and I was mildly amused. I mean, guess what, Ivanka Trump was a disgusting person in prep school too. This was written by Lysandra Ohrstrom, who met Ivanka when they were both 7th graders, and their friendship blossomed at Chapin, the elite all-girls school in Manhattan. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
Donald Trump had a photographic memory for teenage girls’ bodies: He would barely acknowledge me except to ask if Ivanka was the prettiest or the most popular girl in our grade. Before I learned that the Trumps have no sense of humor about themselves, I remember answering honestly that she was probably in the top five. “Who’s prettier than Ivanka?” I recall him asking once with genuine confusion, before correctly naming the two girls I’d had in mind. He described one as a young Cindy Crawford, while the other he said had a great figure. Though he never remembered my name, he seemed to have a photographic memory for changes in my body. I’ll never forget the time Ivanka and I were having lunch with her brothers at Mar-a-Lago one day, and while Mr. Trump was saying hi, Don Jr. swiped half a grilled cheese sandwich off my plate. Ivanka scolded him, but Mr. Trump chimed in, “Don’t worry. She doesn’t need it. He’s doing her a favor.” Conversely, he’d usually congratulate me if I’d lost weight.
Ivanka always hated poor people: I’ve been reminded of a phone call we had in our mid-20s. Ivanka always solicited book suggestions from me, and I had recently recommended Empire Falls, Richard Russo’s 2001 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel about the life of a diner manager in a working-class community in Maine. “Ly, why would you tell me to read a book about f–cking poor people?” I remember Ivanka saying. “What part of you thinks I would be interested in this?”
She’s vain, boring & rough around the edges: Ivanka would regularly relay stories of teachers or observers who had commented that she had the most innate talent they had ever seen for whatever new pursuit she was taking up. She never wore a Halloween costume that wasn’t flattering, which means she usually showed up at costume parties looking beautiful and boring. She always stopped at McDonald’s for cheeseburgers. She cursed. 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.
What in the…By the time I did return home, she had started dating Jared Kushner, whose family was Orthodox Jewish, and my pro-Palestinian stance began to chafe. Since 2007, I’ve worn a necklace with my name written in Arabic, and Ivanka grew increasingly irritated by it. Sometimes, she would randomly say, “I hate that thing.” Then one night in the middle of dinner, she glanced at the necklace and said, “How does your Jewish boyfriend feel when you are having sex and that necklace hits him in the face? How can you wear that thing? It just screams, ‘terrorist.’”
After four years, Lysandra still doesn’t get why Ivanka turned MAGA: Aligning herself with her dad’s banana republic-style administration made no sense to me, until my friend suggested that Ivanka took her kids to the rally to show them that they are American royalty. This explanation seemed most plausible. What is more royal than presiding over subjects that you disdain?
After reading this, I realized that I’ve completely written off tons of people for only a fraction of what Ivanka did to Lysandra. I probably could have overlooked the “I’m not going to read about poor people” thing, and I could probably ignore the casual, incessant vanity and vulgarity too (although eating McDonalds cheeseburgers does not equal “rough around the edges”). But high school friends grow apart in their 20s, it happens all the time, and at that point, it was clear who Ivanka was and how ignorant and awful she was. I can see how it surprised Lysandra when Ivanka went full MAGA, but again… Ivanka completely telegraphed that. We knew she was complicit in 2016-17. After four years of her weird fascist baby-whisper, let’s just close this f–king book.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red and Backgrid.