Inside Bristol Palin’s Complicated Public Life

In an alternate universe, Bristol Palin by no means courted controversy. She by no means did Dancing With the Stars (twice), she wasn’t the butt of any jokes, and he or she by no means felt the necessity to clarify her life decisions.

However that is not the universe we’re residing in.

On this world, Sen. John McCain picked telegenic Alaska Gov. Sarah Palinas his operating mate in 2008, ushering her entire household into the highlight and including a brand new motley set of sort-of celebrities to the popular culture combine.

Bristol was solely 17 when she was kind of pressured to be the face of teen being pregnant in America, her mom revealing her expectant standing on a nationwide stage a couple of days after Palin formally signed on with McCain. 

What a approach to meet your public, proper?

Bristol Palin is now 27 and it has been about 5 years since her final actuality present look, on Movie star Spouse Swap in 2013, which capped off a five-year interval the place she launched a scathing memoir and understandably slot in as a lot media publicity as potential to assist her younger household, which she was doing as a single mother. 

Extra not too long ago she has maintained a light-weight presence within the public eye by way of social media and as a blogger on Patheos, the place she declares herself “Professional Life, Professional God and Professional Weapons.”

However as anybody who’s ever carried out even one season of an MTV or TLC sequence and wasn’t well-known earlier than or hasn’t carried out something since can let you know, when you’re thrown into that highlight, your small business finds a manner of getting on the market, lengthy after the cameras cease rolling.

And as soon as once more, enterprise that is theoretically personal (albeit a part of the general public report) has raised eyebrows as soon as once more as a result of it entails Bristol, who’s free to make no matter decisions she desires however has earned her share of critics together with her outspoken promotion of a sure set of values that even she hasn’t been in a position to abide by.

Lower than a yr after welcoming their second youngster collectively, Bristol and husband Dakota Meyer are divorcing. E! Information has confirmed that Meyer, a former Marine who was awarded a Medal of Honor in 2009, filed the paperwork in Austin, Texas.

In response to a replica of the paperwork obtained by Folks, Meyer used solely their initials (in an obvious effort to decelerate the information cycle) and cited as the explanation for the break up “discord or battle of personalities” that “destroys the official ends of the wedding relationship and prevents any affordable expectation of reconciliation.” TMZ reviews that they are not residing collectively.


The pair are mother and father to daughters Sailor Grace, 2, and Atlee Bay, eight months. Bristol can be mother to 9-year-old Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnson, her son with ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston, the highschool not-so-sweetheart who turned much more of an unintentional celeb than Bristol when Sarah Palin turned the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee and knowledgeable the world that Johnston can be marrying her daughter.

“Bristol and the younger man she’s going to marry are going to understand in a short time the difficulties of elevating a toddler, which is why they may have the love and assist of our total household,” Sarah and husband Todd Palin mentioned in an announcement issued by McCain’s marketing campaign on Sept. 1, 2008.


Bristol Palin, Levi Johnston

Justin Sullivan/Getty Photographs

A McCain aide advised CNN that the senator was conscious of Bristol’s being pregnant when he prolonged the invitation to Palin, who described herself on the marketing campaign path concurrently as a relatable hockey mother and a “mama grizzly” who’d let the claws come out to guard her younger when want be.

“Households have difficulties generally and fortunate for her she has a supportive household,” the aide mentioned, referring to Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin's family, Track Palin

Harry E. Walker/MCT/MCT by way of Getty Photographs

Whereas each the McCaign and Obama campaigns had been fast to publicly state that the race was not about any of the candidates’ youngsters and people boundaries ought to be revered, Bristol’s being pregnant was clearly a lightning rod for controversy (and late-night comedy), whether or not you thought…

Nicely, principally, no matter you thought, there was a aspect so that you can take.

Quick-forward a few months and Sarah Palin didn’t turn into vice chairman of the USA, however her household remained well-known anyway. Tripp was born on Dec. 27, 2008. Bristol and Levi break up up in January 2009, solely to quietly reconcile later that yr and get re-engaged.

Bristol mentioned on Fox Information in March 2009 that, if she needed to do something otherwise, it could have been to go to school and pursue a profession earlier than having a household, however she was head over heels for her son. He “brings a lot pleasure,” she advised Greta Van Susteren. “I do not remorse it in any respect.”

In Could 2009, Bristol, having been appointed a teen ambassador by the Candie’s Basis to assist forestall teen being pregnant, mentioned on Good Morning America, “I do not see myself as a star; I do not need to be one. However I feel utilizing this expertise in my life to assist others, I feel it is a blessing.”

Sarah Palin resigned from the governorship in July 2009, saying that she each wished to guard her household, which had come below cruel scrutiny, and since, she mentioned, she had realized that she wasn’t “wired to function below the identical previous politics as traditional.”

Following within the footsteps of her mom, who wrote books and have become a go-to pundit on Fox Information, Bristol opted to develop her media horizons as effectively. 

And he or she tried to have Levi alongside for a few of it, however in mid-2010 they broke up for good after he received his now-wife Sunny Oglesby pregnant. Johnston and Oglesbee have been married since 2012 and at the moment are mother and father of two.

Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin

Judy Patrick/

Bristol participated in TLC’s Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which adopted the household round of their residence base of Wasilla, after which she accepted an invite to do Dancing With the Stars within the fall of 2010.

Partnered with Mark Ballas, she ended up making all of it the way in which to the ultimate, a shock and finally controversial run which served as a reminder that, from day one, Bristol additionally received herself loads of followers, most of whom most likely assist her and her household to this present day.

“She’s improved each week. I feel lots of people are ignoring the truth that she’s really an honest dancer,” DWTS govt producer Conrad Inexperienced advised Leisure Weekly in response to the conspiracy principle that the Tea Celebration, which adored Sarah Palin, was messing with the voting system by some means. “What I feel is annoying individuals is that perhaps she’s not as vivid a performer as a number of the different dancers on the present.”

Realizing full effectively that wasn’t the one factor annoying individuals who had been outraged over Bristol advancing as a substitute of Brandy, Inexperienced mentioned, “There is perhaps a component of her vote that is from Republicans, however there is perhaps a component of her vote she’s not getting due to Democrats. She was working at a dermatologist’s workplace in Alaska, whereas Jennifer Gray was in a film beloved by thousands and thousands of girls round this nation who at the moment are our target market.

“She hasn’t received any fan base to talk of. If there are a couple of Tea Celebration individuals getting behind her, how is that any completely different from Marie Osmond‘s followers voting for her, or rodeo followers voting for Ty Murray, or Brandy’s followers—5 million albums bought—who had been voting for her? You can argue that [Bristol]’s received no constituency. Individuals are being melodramatic about this.”

Conrad Inexperienced, meet Folks.

Bristol Palin, Mark Ballas, DWTS


As for the individuals who had threatened by no means to look at once more if Bristol received, Inexperienced cracked,” Folks threaten to depart the nation if the following authorities wins the election. They have a tendency to not.”

Choose Carrie Ann Inaba weighed in to the Los Angeles Instances, saying, “What’s unhappy is that, whereas persons are upset about Brandy, and I fully perceive that, I do not suppose they need to be taking down any individual else who’s doing effectively. You will be upset and please specific your self however younger children learn message boards. We do not need to educate our children that when you do not like one thing, it is best to spew.”

Precisely. Which is why days later Bristol apologized on behalf of her and her sister Willow Palin after they misplaced their mood with a Fb commenter who wrote that Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which was airing on the similar time, was “failing so laborious.”

Willow, who was 16 on the time, had fired again, “Haha your [sic] so homosexual. I don’t know who you might be, However what I’ve seen footage of, your [sic] disgusting … My sister had a child and continues to be scorching. Tre stfu. Your such a f—-t.” Bristol added, “You are operating your mouth simply to speak s–t.”

Standing down, Bristol wrote, “Willow and I should not have reacted to adverse feedback about our household. We apologize. On a nicer be aware, thanks for supporting the good competitors in ‘Dancing With the Stars.'”

Bristol made waves on DWTS too (and never simply by succeeding) when she inferred in considered one of her interview packages that she wasn’t superficial like your common celeb.

“I wasn’t which means the competitors,” she advised E! Information backstage the evening earlier than she came upon she’d be dancing within the finals. “That is most likely going to be taken the fallacious manner. However I do know there are many individuals on the market that activate a smile for the cameras, after I’m the identical 24/7. I am very actual.”

“That is my seventh season and I’ve at all times had athletes or actresses,” Ballas added. “I’ve had Melissa Joan HartShannen Doherty, and I feel that is the primary time on a season that we have had somebody who is not on a TV present, is not in a film, is not making data or doing something like that. We simply known as Bristol up in Alaska, and now she’s within the semifinals. That is the primary time the true testomony of this present has been advised.”

“That is why we’re nonetheless round, and I am blissful to be right here,” Bristol agreed. “Mark began with somebody from scratch, and I am turning into far more assured and persons are watching that journey.” She was referred to by means of introduction on the present as a “teen activist.”

The next week on the finale, she mentioned, “Going on the market and successful this may imply lots. It will be like an enormous center finger to all of the individuals on the market that hate my mother and hate me.” However—nationwide disaster averted!—she ended up coming in third. Jennifer Gray received the mirror ball that season. 

Bristol Palin

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Photographs

However Bristol had turn into extra well-known than ever.

In 2011 she launched a fairly juicy and at instances self-flagellating memoir, Not Afraid of Life: My Journey So Far, by which she described shedding her virginity (to Levi, whereas she was drunk on wine coolers throughout a camp-out): “All of my plans, my guarantees, and my ethical requirements had disappeared in a single terrible evening in a sequence of dangerous selections.”

Her intention as a Christian, she defined, was to attend for marriage to have intercourse (and as a public determine she would proceed to evangelise abstinence). After that they had intercourse, she concluded, “I used to be going to marry Levi. I needed to now.” They broke up when the Palin household moved to Juneau, when her mother was elected governor, however reconnected in the summertime of 2007.

She had intercourse with him, she wrote, as a result of he had wants as a man and “if I wasn’t going to fill them, I feared he’d return to his previous [cheating] methods.” After she was prescribed contraception to assist with menstrual cramps, they stopped utilizing condoms.

Bristol took eight being pregnant checks, all optimistic, earlier than the information sunk in. “Higher be a f–king boy,” is what Levi mentioned, in line with the e book.

Levi, in the meantime, took subject with numerous his ex’s anecdotes, and Levi’s sister Mercede Johnston known as Bristol “the meanest individual.” She advised Playboy in 2011, “Every thing is about her, her, her. She has to have her personal manner. She’ll be super-sweet after which she turns into essentially the most evil individual I’ve ever recognized… I did not know somebody may very well be so vindictive and evil.”

Bristol Palin, Dancing with the Stars All-Stars

Adam Taylor/ABC

Of her Dancing With the Stars expertise, Bristol wrote, “I observed a number of the contestants rolled their eyes after they realized we might survived to bop one other day,” whereas a number of the contestants voted off earlier than her “actually wouldn’t communicate to us or acknowledge our presence.”

Bristol each endeared and infected together with her e book, a deft means to polarize apparently operating within the household.

In 2012 she starred in her personal actuality present, Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp, chronicling her expertise as a single mother residing in Arizona. And that fall, any negativity she beforehand skilled apart, she returned for Dancing With the Stars‘ all-star season, once more partnered with Ballas.

No matter chemistry together with her viewers—and Mark—that she’d established throughout her first run on DWTS went lacking the second time round, nonetheless, and after experiencing a tearful on-air disaster of confidence that had Anderson Cooper begging her to get an actual job, she was eradicated in week 4. Tabloids obsessed over her obvious weight reduction and speculated that she’d had work carried out on her face. And somebody even despatched hate mail containing a mysterious (although finally innocent) powder to the studio, prompting Sarah Palin to get entangled. (Or, as she mentioned on her personal short-lived actuality present whereas searching, “Do not retreat. Simply reload.”

Bristol Palin, Dancing With The Stars


“These threats positive waste numerous time, manufacturing and public sources; however do the haters actually suppose this can cease Bristol and Mark and the present’s producers from keepin’ on keepin’ on? Foolish critics—in spite of everything these years of goofy antics like this we discover these efforts are literally fairly motivating! Bristol’s not letting this get her down,” Palin wrote on Fb in Mama Grizzly mode.

Life’s a Tripp solely lasted one season (and required a weird clarification from Bristol when it sounded as if her then Three-year-old son blurted an anti-gay slur, and he or she assured that he had used the opposite F-word). In 2013, Bristol and Willow appeared on Movie star Spouse Swap in an episode with Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa Rivers (“spouse” being only a jumping-off level), which led to a heartwarming second between celebs approaching one another from reverse sides of the political spectrum.

“I feel Joan is simply superior,” Bristol advised Fox Information. “I feel on the finish of the day, her household is an important factor to her, identical to with me—my household is an important factor to me.”

And Joan was pleasantly shocked as effectively, telling Bristol on the finish of the episode, “I discovered no one ought to decide anyone from the place they arrive, or who they’re associated to, good or dangerous. You might be your personal individual. And…I am keen on you. I simply suppose you are nice. I simply had the perfect time with you. I feel you are terrific.”

When Rivers died in 2014, Bristol wrote, “Folks would possibly marvel how we might get alongside so effectively—since we had completely different politics and got here from completely different locations.  However that misses the purpose solely. Politics is downstream from most individuals’s lives—together with mine. Joan was a uncommon individual—charming, humorous, and (regardless of how she pretended in any other case) variety.”

In the meantime, although she continued to weblog, Bristol had retreated again right into a extra personal life in Alaska.

However the 24/7 information cycle was by no means distant. In 2014 half of the Palin household received caught up in a drunken bar struggle in Alaska, apparently whereas defending their honor. In response to the police report, Willow advised Bristol lady had pushed her, and went Bristol went to confront the girl, a man shoved Bristol to the bottom and known as her a “f–king slut” and the c-word. Then she began smacking him.

“Some man punched me!” Bristol will be heard yelling on a replica of the police audio tape, obtained by E! Information. “I do not know the names…He pushed me down on the bottom and dragged me throughout the grass!”

Then a gaggle of 4 different individuals reportedly jumped patriarch Todd Palin, prompting his son Monitor Palin to leap into the fray.

“I really like my Bristol!” Sarah Palin, who didn’t witness the joy that evening, wrote in addressing the incident on Fb. “My straight-shooter is among the strongest younger ladies you will ever meet. I’ve to say this as a proud mama: proper up there with their work ethic and coronary heart for these much less lucky, my children’ protection of household makes my coronary heart soar!”

She went on, “As you possibly can think about, they and my prolonged household have skilled so many issues (liberal media-driven) which will have crushed others with no sturdy basis of religion, and I am grateful for our associates’ prayer protect that surrounds them, permitting religion to stay their anchor. Thanks, prayer warriors! I really like you!”

So the Us vs. Them feeling sown among the many Palins and their supporters solely continued to perpetuate. Sooner or later, Bristol had began courting Dakota Meyer, and some months later, in January 2015, she revealed she was pregnant once more.  

However as a substitute of a celebratory announcement, Bristol virtually apologized.

“(I am saying this information lots before I ever anticipated as a result of fixed trolls who don’t have anything higher to speak about!!!),” she wrote on her weblog. “I wished you guys to be the primary to know that I’m pregnant.

“Truthfully, I have been attempting my hardest to maintain my chin up on this one. On the finish of the day there’s nothing I can not do with God by my aspect, and I do know I’m absolutely able to dealing with something that’s put in entrance of me with dignity and style. Life strikes on it doesn’t matter what.  So regardless of how you’re feeling, you stand up, dress, present up, and by no means quit. When life will get powerful, there isn’t a different choice however to get harder.

“I do know this has been, and will probably be, an enormous disappointment to my household, to my shut associates, and to lots of you,” she wrote in her weblog submit. “However please respect Tripp’s and my privateness throughout this time. I don’t need any lectures and I don’t need any sympathy. My little household at all times has, and at all times will come first. Tripp, this new child, and I’ll all be superb, as a result of God is merciful.” 

As she herself famous, she was attempting to get forward of the haters and the inevitable bodyshamers who would have been all too blissful to level out an iota of weight achieve. However her being pregnant served as a rueful acknowledgment that she herself wasn’t precisely working towards what she preached about premarital intercourse and nuclear-family values. 

At first she did not establish the dad however quickly sufficient Meyer stepped again into the image and so they received engaged. Days earlier than they had been attributable to tie the knot in Could 2015, nonetheless, they known as off the ceremony. 

By way of an announcement posted by her mother, Bristol said that any rumors that Meyer was nonetheless legally married to his first spouse had been fallacious, that that they had in truth been divorced for years. 

Bristol Palin, Dakota Meyer, Instagram


They welcomed daughter Sailor that December and settled right into a co-parenting routine. Finally they reconciled and determined to get married in spite of everything, which they did on Could 23, 2016. Nearly precisely a yr later that they had daughter Atlee, and moved from Alaska to Texas.

“This being pregnant has strengthen our bond and made our relationship stand even firmer on the muse that we now have proudly constructed up for our little household,” Bristol wrote every week after Atlee’s beginning.

As for the transfer, she defined, “When Dakota and I received married, we each agreed that we might ‘meet within the center’ and transfer someplace to dig our roots in a mutual, new, place. We selected Texas, and I could not be happier! The children like it too. The brand new home is simply in time for Dakota and me to rejoice our marriage ceremony anniversary.”

They lived a quiet life in Austin, with Bristol persevering with to weblog and share household photographs and vacation pics on Instagram, identical to anyone else. And now she’s getting divorced, identical to anyone else.

No apologies essential.

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