Growing up in a household of mostly boys, I grew pretty tough very early about personal insults. I love my brothers, of course, but things could get rough at times. Learning to give as good as I got became a self-protective habit that served me well over the years. Guys sometimes don’t know when to stop especially when the target is a girl; they keep needling and taunting until the girl runs away crying. I was not EVER going to do that! Not even when my older brother invited me to play baseball with his friends and they started throwing all the balls at me all at once to see if they would bounce off my belly. Not even when they made the worst hurtful comments about my ample frame. (Yes, I was a chubette from my earliest days.) Learning to ignore the nasty “fat girl” whispers from Mr. Peanut-Butter-Breath was almost as useful as perfecting my fast ball. Learning to pitch high and fast on the inside became a valuable skill that helped me to survive childhood games at the playground.
Most boys grow up and grow out of their childish need to show their little man power by hurting others, especially girls who can be such easy targets — especially girls who struggle with their weight, since body image is such an American psychological minefield. Men who resort to taunting grown women about their weight are displaying the vestigial remnants of their sandlot desperation to prove how big they are. Such sad little men.
When the nominee of a major political party resorts to fat shaming a woman to deflect attention from his appallingly bad debate performance, he has revealed how small he really is. Bad enough that Donald J. Trump called Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” when he owned the beauty pageant in 1996, and humiliated her about her weight in front of others. (He also revealed his ugly racism by calling the Hispanic beauty queen “Miss Housekeeping.”)
But Trump, ever 8 years old on the sandlot and trying to prove how big he could be, went on a rampage after Hillary Clinton called him out on his misogyny during the Monday night debate. She cited his treatment of Ms. Machado among many other ugly incidents revealing his disposition toward women. In response, in television interviews the following morning, Trump went off on Ms. Machado, calling her “the worst” and discussing her weight gain in the year after she won the crown.
THE LIST is a long running series on this blog about prominent men (and a few women) in in the public eye whose scurrilous lies, shameful treatment of spouses and other women, and other misbehavior is the opposite of the kind of leadership and role modeling we need in public figures. Donald Trump is worthy of his very own list.
There are so many ways in which Trump has revealed himself as completely unfit to be the president of the United States. The racism of his cynical description of the African American community “living in hell” to try to curry favor with white voters. The nativism that is so evident in his attacks on immigrants. His refusal to disclose his taxes; the incoherent rants when opponents or media cite actual facts about him. And for someone who notoriously and very publicly cheated on his first two wives, to threaten to try to humiliate Hillary Clinton by dragging her husband’s affairs into the debates is just about a contemptible as it gets. (Bill Clinton, by the way, is also on THE LIST which is very bipartisan.)
All of those elements deserve analysis, of course, but there is one thing I and other women know about without doing a lick of research, because it’s deeply personal: fat shaming is a window into a misogynist’s soul, a truly ugly place that is a nightmare of narcisissm revealing a man whose only true use for a woman is as a sex object that meets his precise standards for body dimensions. Fat shaming is a way for men to objectify women, demeaning women’s fundamental humanity and denying their real power. Strong women ignore the little men taunting them, but too many women fall into the trap of self-loathing and the quest for the illusory perfect body.
Real men don’t feel any need to shame women on body size or anything else. Too bad there’s not a real man standing up at the podium in these debates. Just an overgrown 8 year-old, a small-minded little man.
For a complete rundown of opinion articles on this topic see: The Daily 202: Trump stumbles into Clinton’s trap by feuding with Latina beauty queen
See Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, September 29, 2016: That Seventh-Grade Bully Is Running for President
See Ruth Marcus, Washington Post, September 30, 2016: Most people grow out of middle school. Not Donald Trump.
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