It was the summer of Barbie, Taylor Swift and Beyonce. Girls ran the world, and girlhood was celebrated with friendship bracelets and pink merchandise galore.

This version of “girlhood” has made its way into the political sphere with young girls and women flocking to see Nikki Haley, placing her as the newest women figure of this niche.

Haley signs arms at her campaign speeches, where she is offered friendship bracelets. Influencers use her standard campaign Margaret Thatcher quote “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman” on TikTok.

Women Haley

“Women for Nikki” volunteers wave signs ahead of an appearance by Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley on Jan. 14, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. Haley has carefully calibrated her candidacy as a woman, deflecting Trump’s aggression, hitting back with a smile while letting her supporters draw their own conclusions.

Young girls wearing Clemson orange and purple shirts, American-themed bows and ribbons, pins with pictures of Haley on them and signs with “little women for Haley,” have been a popular occurrence at her rallies in the Palmetto state. For some, it’s not about Haley’s politics at all. Many of the girls at the recent events won’t even be old enough to vote, and some are too young to be talking politics with friends. But seeing a woman running for president was all they needed.

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Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Dolly Madison, Margaret Thatcher, “Nana”, Kimberly Hampton, women in the Marines, sisters, aunts, moms, J-Lo, Miss Colorado, Sarah Blakely, Megyn Kelly, Anne Hathaway and Taylor Swift (more than once), were all names that young girls and women at Haley’s Jan. 27 Greenville campaign event said inspired them or held characteristics that they loved about Haley.

“I’m excited to see Nikki Haley because she might be the first woman to become a president of the United States and I support her in that, and we’ve never had a woman president so I don’t know what it’s like and I’m excited to know what it is like, possibly,” said Nora White, a 10-year-old in fourth grade.

Nora, came to the Greenville event from Durham, North Carolina, with her sister, Ellison and their dad, Michael. He said events like Haley’s are not something they get to experience very much in North Carolina, and that bringing his girls to events like hers was “politics in action.”

“I think having two daughters, to see them have a positive role model that’s a Republican woman who is running for president, I think there is nothing better than for them to see that first hand,” Michael said.

Before Haley appeared, the three were on risers near the stage with signs, dancing to songs such as “Holding Out for a Hero,” by Bonnie Tyler and the Go-Gos “We Got the Beat.”

Nora’s sister Ellison White, 17, said it’s a huge deal to see a woman on stage running for president. The high school senior wants to study political science in college. She said Haley has inspired her with her American dream.

“We live in a bluer county in North Carolina. So, being able to come out and be surrounded by people who are like-minded with us is a huge deal, especially with my sister only being 10 years old,” Ellison said.

While a lot of her friends don’t necessarily share her political views, Ellison said several of them said they would stand behind Haley because of the core American values she presents.

“It’s not necessarily because she’s more left leaning at all, but because she stands for the traditional things written out in the Constitution,” Ellison said. “From where I’m from, I don’t see young people support Republican women.”

“It’s super inspiring to see another woman up on stage fighting for our rights to be president of the United States,” Nora said.

After the event, Nora asked Haley to sign her arm, and then hugged Haley in a photo.

Tami Uria, a teacher in Greenville, attended the event with her daughter Sofia, 7, and husband, Scott. When Haley was governor, she visited a school Uria was teaching at.

“She’s always been in my mind since then,” Uria said. “I love seeing a powerful woman who is also very eloquent in the way she speaks and she’s very educated, very smart. I just think it’s a great example for all of our girls, the girls that I teach, my daughters. I just think it’s a great example for them as well.”

Alex Rogers, 16, and Mimi Sherman, 16, best friends who attend high school in Greenville, were both excited to see Haley. Decked out in red, white and blue, Rogers held an American flag while Sherman held a sign that said “Nikki 2024, About Time.”

“I’ve always been a very patriotic and Republican person, but I also am relatively a heavy feminist, so having a Republican female is one of the best things I could have hoped for for this presidency and overall our government,” Rogers said.

While the girls are 16 and cannot vote yet, they definitely care about politics and both plan to join the military.

Rogers said Haley shares a lot of qualities with other Republicans that she likes. Age also plays a big role, she said, and she appreciated Haley was younger.

“It’s time, we need a woman president,” Rogers said.

While some young girls may not be able to understand the politics, all their parents at the Jan. 27 event agreed it was vital to give them a chance to see a woman like Haley in a powerful position.

Swift’s “The man,” but Haley’s version.

Even for some teens, it was less about Haley’s politics, and seemingly more about her energy and appearance as a woman running for president, especially when she went after the male candidates.

On TikTok, a mix up of the song “Maneater” by Nelly Furtado and Haley saying Thatcher’s “want something done, ask a woman” quote went viral, used with over 15,000 posts, including by several popular young influencers including Alix Earle.

Whether influencers or social media users intend to support Haley, they all found the sound catchy or inspiring enough to add to their own content. Other users have posted videos of Haley defending herself or snapping at some of the former male Republican candidates, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis.

“For all you girl dads out there, and all you strong moms, we have to raise strong girls. Strong girls become strong women. Strong women become strong leaders,” Haley told the Greenville crowd.

Amanda Elliott and her daughter Vada, 3, attended the event with a friend.

Elliott said she knows Vada is young, but she feels it’s important to bring her out to community events. She also took Vada to a Tim Scott event and when she voted.

“I wanna be able to tell her (Vada) when you were three you came to a Nikki Haley rally because she was in your backyard, and there’s no excuse not to come,” Elliott said.

“Good Leader.” “Nice and funny.”

Throughout the night, Haley was described in many different ways.

Jenelle Martin, 16, her sister Abby Martin, 12, came with their mom, Andrea Martin, and their neighbor Hannah McCurry, 14.

When asked what words they would use to describe Haley, the girls said “strong,” “inspiring,” “moderate,” and “inclusive.”

“I thought, if she does become president, which I hope she does, I think it would be awesome to be able to say ‘hey I met the first woman president,’ ” Jenelle said.

Other girls, like Ruby Moon, 8, who came with her grandmother Becky Tomes, said if she could tell Haley something, she would tell her she is really “nice and funny.”

Reagan Scharf, a fifth-grader who attended with her parents and two siblings, said words that best encompassed Haley were “confident,” “good leader,” and “incredible.”

Reagan’s math teacher is married to Nikki Haley’ daughter, said Reagan’s mom, Megan. Reagan was excited to come see Haley because of that.

Throughout the event, everyone seemed to enjoy the playlist, but especially the children who attended.

Ana, a 5-year-old kindergartner, jumped around to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA while her great-uncle, Andrew Morris, and “Nana” Jane Morris waited for Haley to arrive.

“I am 75 and I am too old to make any world decisions,” Jane said. “Just like those two old men. They are just old. Biden looks like that old man from ‘Sesame Street,’ the theater guy, oh wait, ‘The Muppets.’”

While Ana wasn’t quite aware of who Haley was, she seemed happy to be there, and said she looked up to her mama.

“The men have been in charge of the world since the beginning of time, and look what they’ve done with it. Let’s give a woman a chance!” Jane said.

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