Fat shaming: An American pastime
“Donald Trump has a serious weight problem: He can’t seem to stop criticizing the girth of others,” said Katie Zezima and Jose DelReal in The Washington Post. The Republican presidential nominee made fat shaming a national issue last week with his derisive criticism of 1996 Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado—or “Miss Piggy,” as Trump labeled her after she put on some pounds following the pageant he once owned. Democratic rival Hillary Clinton called Trump out at their first debate for mocking Machado’s weight gain after she won the crown; as usual, Trump responded by doubling down, saying, “You know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” For decades, Trump has openly expressed disgust for overweight women. He’s called such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Rosie O’Donnell “fat,” and kept a “fat picture” of a female employee in his drawer so that he could remind her of the need to diet.
Sadly, plenty of Americans share Trump’s “fat prejudice,” said Gina Kolata in The New York Times. “Though more than a third of adults are obese,” overweight people experience constant scorn and discrimination from childhood on. They’re bullied and taunted, “are more prone to anxiety and depression,” and are less likely to be offered a job than their thinner counterparts. The common prejudice is that fat people are “lazy, slobby, and self-indulgent,” said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune,as if excess weight were something “these people blithely choose, instead of an unwanted condition that millions of them regard with shame and try constantly to overcome.”
How politically adept of Trump to insult overweight voters, and to remind women how he judges them, said Timothy Egan in The New York Times. The great irony of Trump’s obsession with other people’s looks, of course, is that the man has orange skin, short fingers, a ducktailed combover, two chins, and “a gut you wouldn’t want to see riding above a bathing suit.” Still, the backlash from Trump’s comments shows we’re making progress, said Rebecca Ruiz in Mashable.com. Back in 1997, when Trump forced a humiliated Machado to exercise in front of reporters and TV cameras, the media thought it was amusing. Today, though, Trump’s behavior is meeting with widespread disgust. Perhaps we’re moving toward the day when “casually shaming a woman’s body is no longer a deed that goes unpunished.”