Q&A: Chiara de Blasio, Front-runner for First Daughter of New York

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Photo: Rob Bennett/Courtesy photo

When Chiara de Blasio voted for the first time, her father's name was on the ballot. The 18-year-old daughter of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio spoke to the Cut the morning after her dad's Democratic primary opponent conceded. After spending the summer campaigning — and watching little brother Dante become a viral video star — Chiara is heading back to college, where she plans to major in environmental studies. Over oatmeal at Park Slope's Little Purity diner, she discussed Dante's Afro, her signature flower crown, and sleeping over in an East Harlem housing project.

How was freshman year of college?
It was a difficult transition. I go to school in California, and it was very different from New York. It's a pretty small campus and wasn't really diverse, racially or economically. My main reason for going was scholarship purposes. The way that people pay for college nowadays will affect them for decades, having to get crazy loans and stuff. It was hard, but I'm really excited to go back now. I'm going back on Friday. I live in the dorms.

What do you think of the excitement surrounding your brother?
I think it's well deserved! I mean, he hasn't cut his hair in, like, seven years.

You used to have an Afro, too. Do you regret changing it?
Oh, I change my hair all the time. Right now I'm dreading it, so I won't change it for a long time now, but I probably changed my hair about once a year for the past several years. I think the natural-hair movement going on these years is amazing. Black women go through so much effort to make their hair look like white people's hair, which it never will unless they get a weave. It's so much money and stress.

Your dad once said, "I am very proud of the fact that my wife and I have raised two vegetarians." Were you raised that way from the start?
When we were really young, we were raised mainly vegetarian. I think we ate fish sticks, and that's about it. My mom was the one who was really proactive about it. So for several years of my life I only ate fish sparingly, and then I started eating some red meats because my dad was the meat eater in the family. But I soon rejected that. I was vegan for my whole freshman year of high school, but it wasn't too healthy for me.

It's hard to do!
Yeah. I have a lot of allergies. It was mainly an ethical thing, in terms of animal rights. I love animals and don't see any need to eat them. I learned a lot in my environment ethics class last semester, and there's so many environmental and health reasons to do it, too, so I don't plan to eat meat ever again.

Do you read articles about your mom and dad?
I don't read every article, but I read a lot of them. It's a little hard to keep up with all the ones about my dad now.

Have you found out anything new about them?
I found out they went to Cuba for their honeymoon! In one of the forums, during the lightning round, the moderator asked if the candidates had ever been to Cuba. They had always told me they went to Canada. They actually flew out of there to go to Cuba, but they'd never told us. I thought it was awesome. I was like, "Why didn't you tell me that? That's so badass."

What did you mean when you said your dad was not "some boring white guy"?
I meant that a lot of politicians are white and may not have cultural knowledge or interest in every racial or social background. But my dad went to Nicaragua during the Sandinista movement. He has visited multiple countries in Africa. He's a very worldly person, and I think that a lot of people could look at him and just see the color of his skin, but it's so much deeper than that.

What did you like best on the campaign trail?
I like understanding what's going on better. In every way I think that I'm lucky to live the life that I live. I don't have a lot of the problems that other people have. It's very important for me to see what other people go through.

Like when you accompanied your father on the mayoral candidates' sleepover in a Harlem housing project.
Yeah. I'd never been inside a projects apartment before. Just to see those people who had just, by a totally unfortunate turn of events, they had ended up living in this place that was totally subpar living conditions. That just totally broke my heart. The family I stayed with had had a fire at their house. And the woman's husband had health issues and so they had to pay for his treatment, and he couldn’t live there because the elevators didn't work and he had a wheelchair. That can tear a family apart. Not everybody can have the best of luck, but I think it's crucial to pay attention to people like that.

Tell me about your flower crown.
I really like living things. I like plants. I'm a pretty happy person, and I guess I just like to have an ethereal thing going on. I got it at Urban Outfitters, as was suspected.

And your piercings? When did you get them?
Hmmm, let me think. I started stretching my ears several years ago, probably when I was 15. I got my eyebrow pierced last April, and I got my nose pierced this April. My mom used to have a nose ring, too.

This interview has been condensed and edited.