Christine Flowers, 9/30/2016 [Archive]

As Election Issues Go, Fat Shaming is a Lightweight

As Election Issues Go, Fat Shaming is a Lightweight

By Christine Flowers


Growing up, I developed a special vocabulary to describe my body shape. Since I was very feminine and cute enough to make grandmothers and elderly nuns smile, I liked to call myself "plump," "pudgy," "roundish," "chubby" or the adverb-turned-adjective "dieting."

It never occurred to me to think that I was growing up in a toxic society that judged me by the way I looked. Sure, there were the unkind comments overheard at the occasional mixer, and, yes, my father did express his concern that I was developing more chins than a Peking phone book. But no one ever tied my worth to my girth. No one.

That might be why I'm having a huge, yuuuge problem treating Donald Trump as a sadistic beast intent on destroying all the fragile young women in society. There is no question he is boorish and arrogant, and his view of women seems to have been captured in the amber of the Jurassic Period.

That's not to say I am excusing the bullying, mean-spirited attacks on the women Trump has targeted during this campaign. The way a man treats the women in his life is a measure of his character, and, by that measure, Trump is several floods behind Noah. When he went after Carly Fiorina's looks during the primaries, I was one of the first to criticize him. His rather sophomoric ravings about Megyn Kelly were also a sign he wasn't ready for prime time, and his later attacks on Hillary Clinton were unsurprisingly lame. He is not a gentleman.

But we are not voting for Gentleman-in-Chief. I asked a good friend of mine who supports Clinton why he thought the media were making so much of Trump's misogyny. After a few moments of hesitation, he said a person's character was a strong indicator of how he (or she) would perform in office. He asked me whether I'd be happy to have Trump call Angela Merkel "fat" at an international conference, and I said that, since Trump can barely speak English, I doubt Angie would understand him anyway. That did not elicit the hoped-for smile, but I tried.

When I look at Trump, I do not see the evil Bluebeard the media are now trying to project. And I suspect that most other women don't see it either, even the ones who would rather stick flaming spears through their eyes than vote for him.

This whole misogyny shtick is effective for Clinton and her cohorts, because, in the Year of the Woman, we need the grand villain to be the man who called Rosie O'Donnell a "fat pig." And since O'Donnell is divisive, and no one actually likes her, Clinton was forced to find another woman to use as her poster child.

She hit the jackpot in former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, an immigrant (new citizen, yay!) a Latina and a former pudge. Trotting out the mouth-droppingly beautiful Alicia and having her lament the fact that the head of the Miss Universe Pageant didn't want her to look like a linebacker after winning the crown (and taking a lot of his money) has helped cement Trump's image as a despicable, woman-hating beast.

But most of us out here aren't buying it. Well, some of us are. But the vast majority of the women in the United States really don't care whether our future president prefers his women on the lighter side. We think that the commercial with those fragile, little teenage Faberge eggs gazing sadly into mirrors is a sign that Clinton has been reading too many Judy Blume books.

We may not be voting for Trump, but we are sick and tired of this ridiculous, opportunistic play for our votes, as if being a few pounds overweight has turned us into victims of a cruel society. We also find it ironic that Clinton is outraged at the fat shaming of a Venezuelan beauty queen, but had no problem whatsoever when Monica Lewinsky was being called all sorts of horrific names a generation ago.

As I recall, "fat" was one of the kinder ones.

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© 2016 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

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