Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, right, arrives at a polling station with his son Dante, left, and daughter Chiara, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 in the Park Slope neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York. De Blasio is running against Republican candidate Joseph Lhota. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Updated: January 30, 2014 6:29AM
The daughter of New York City’s incoming mayor did something brave.
In a video released last week, Chiara de Blasio spoke frankly, as only a 19-year-old can, about a teenager’s struggles with depression and substance abuse.
Framed by her father’s staff as a way to help others battling the same demons, the video actually delivers. In clipped, unpolished sentences and a casualness other teens can relate to, Chiara de Blasio speaks openly about taboo subjects — clinical depression and alcoholism — and tries to use her recovery to inspire others. By Friday, nearly 900,000 people had viewed the video on YouTube.
Is it fair to poke at the new mayor for tightly controlling his daughter’s message, particularly after reporters had asked repeatedly over many months about substance-abuse rumors?
Is it fair to poke at the timing? The video was released after the revelation could no longer hurt her father at the polls.
But none of that overshadows the courage it took for a young woman to not simply admit to depression and addiction — a press release with a request for privacy could have covered that — but to tell her own story, to discover that she might be able to use her experience to help others.
There’s an earnestness in her delivery, a clear awakening to the larger context to the personal crisis she has survived.
“I wanted to speak out because people are suffering from this disease (alcoholism) and dying from this disease every day,” said de Blasio, a college student. “And we really can’t do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it. And nobody can do sobriety on their own.”
Chiara de Blasio didn’t choose her father’s profession.
Chiara de Blasio didn’t decide on her own to become a public figure.
But a public figure she is, one who has admirably embraced the responsibilities and burdens that go with it.