Body Shaming and What I Learned From Trump

B

It’s fucking painful to write that headline.

I don’t want to admit I learned anything from Trump. I loathe him. I abhor him. To me, he represents what makes a person horrible. He is a walking talking trigger for me.

Also, I didn’t really learn anything from Trump. I learned from a Trump adjacent event.

So anyway…..the naked Trump statues.

I laughed when I saw the pictures. I felt a furious joy when imagining how much he would hate them. I felt good about him being publicly humiliated. I thought the statement from the NYC parks department was brilliant. I still do.

“NYC parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.”

Then, I read a status update from a friend on Facebook who made the point that publicly humiliating a person and body shaming them was wrong.

Goddammit so much. She is right.

I rail against body shaming. I call people out for fat shaming. I celebrate when humans are accepted and regarded as beautiful regardless of their size or age.

If I abhor body shaming, then I have to abhor it. I can’t just abhor it for people I like.

I find publicly humiliating people to be reprehensible and low brow. If I dislike public shaming, then I can’t suddenly find it acceptable just because the person being humiliated makes me want to vomit.

If there is any chance that we can fix what is fractured in this country, fighting back with ugliness isn’t it. If there is any way to stop the hatred that has had a huge ugly spotlight shining on it, I don’t believe the way is to counter with hatred, humiliation, and shaming.

I can continue to loathe Trump. I can celebrate when he loses the presidential election. For all that is fucking holy, he MUST lose. Please vote. I can hope he loses in a big way. I do hope he loses in a big way. I hope he gets stomped into the ground and has no recourse but to admit that most people in this country reject his divisiveness and hatefulness. But I can’t celebrate those nude statues of him.

Shame him for the things he says. Shame him for the violence he incites. Shame him for denigrating women and minorities. Shame him for his xenophobia. Shame him for trying to hold the highest political office in our country without having the experience that job requires.

We were horrified when he mocked the reporter with physical disabilities. Mocking him for his physical appearance is no different.

That shit isn’t helpful. If we publicly humiliate and body shame one person, then we’re humiliating and shaming all of them.

How many people have the same body type as the Trump statues? I was going to say a fuck ton, but then I realized that could be misconstrued as a fat slamming term, when I truly would just mean it as a scientific unit of measure. We’ll just say there are a lot. A lot of humans probably have a similar body type. I can’t imagine they feel real good about the goddamn world laughing at it.

It’s stupid. It’s mean. It brings all of us down.

We can’t afford any more down.

I was grateful to have this shift happen for me. It wasn’t easy to admit that I was being a shit when I laughed at the pictures. It wasn’t easy for me to admit that I was being horribly hypocritical when I re-posted the pictures on Facebook. But I’m still grateful. This means I can still grow. It means I can admit when I’m wrong. Even when it chafes.

I need to start seeking out beauty where I can find it. Because the ugliness coming from all sides makes it harder and harder to breathe.

 

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60 comments

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  • *stands*
    Clap.
    Clap.
    Clap.
    When you’re right, you’re right.
    You’re right.
    And I love/hate the shame you made me feel.
    Dammit.
    You are SOOOO right.
    *sits back down*
    Next?

  • I get your perspective. I saw Pauline’s TIme piece, we are good friends. Like Pauline, I’ve suffered with body issues my entire life but I’ve got to say, apparently my loathing for Trump must be even greater because while I don’t approve of unprovoked body shaming in the general population, he provoked people to lash out. He seemingly doesn’t care what anyone says about him but I’m pretty sure, being human, those statues hurt his pride and at least momentarily, took his ego down a notch.

    You and Pauline are better women than I because I think he deserved what he got.

    • I don’t care at all that his ego took a beating. He says horrible and vile things. I just can’t get behind the public body shaming of anyone because even people who AREN’T Trump might feel bad about it. I also, as much as I sometimes don’t want to, want to think I can rise above that.

      I’m with you though..I don’t care if his feelings were hurt. I don’t care at all. I just don’t want to celebrate shaming people based on their appearance.

      I read Pauline’s article this morning and it’s awesome!

  • I love the idea of seeking out beauty rather than reveling in the shaming of others – if we could all do that the world would be a much nicer place to live in. Also great to see that you can have a midlife epiphany and be open enough to share it and what you learned from it. It’s something we can all take on board.

  • Didn’t see the statue, don’t want to see the statue, fuck the statue.

    My “hobby” used to be observing obese people. Now I’m a bit ashamed of myself and hope to never do it again.

    Seems to me that you speak from the heart. Keep it up, if you please.

    • Well, here’s the thing, my friend, just because we behaved badly in the past doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it. We CAN change. I am glad you ended your hobby. Be kind to yourself about it. Be proud that you want to change rather than feel ashamed. 🙂

  • Well said. I even have to say the statues went too far. I don’t want anyone to feel sympathy for him and then support him because he was made fun of in statue form!

  • Have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m glad, and I agree.

    Last spring, The Onion had an article that claimed that HRC had been in NC, and had appeared nude to prove that she’s like everyone else, complete with a photoshopped photo. I was mad as a hornet.

    Furthermore, I Googled “nude/photoshop photos of male presidential candidates”
    Do you know what happened?
    I received a response from Google, “Do you mean nude/photoshop photos of female presidential candidates?”
    It sent me over the edge.

    I refrained from sharing my anger in a post, because I did not want to draw more attention to it than what was already out there.

    But to me, it was sexist, misogynistic, disrespectful, etc.

    I have since quit clicking or reading the Onion at all.

    With all that Donald puts out there, occasionally we need to break the crazy with humor, BUT he is a human being, and there is a line between humor and humiliation that drags not the subject, but the author/artist/sharer/ down to lower than the subject.

  • I didn’t laugh at the pictures. I passed on by because I expose myself to as little Trump as possible. However, I do applaud your checking yourself and being so honest about it. Well done!
    (side note: in confirming my email subscription this morning, I find you’re in the same town I’m moving to soon! Coincidence?)

  • I had the exact same reaction. First, I snickered. Then, I read a FB comment about body shaming and I realized my error. I detest the man as well, but body shaming of anyone is wrong.

    • I believe that is true. I don’t see much as “black and white”, but I feel this is black and white. You don’t shame people for their physical appearance. Period.

  • OK, a few things about this:
    They put one of those statues up at Market and Castro in San Francisco, and I did in fact laugh, more at the denizens of the Castro taking selfies with it than the statue itself, But yes, I did laugh.
    Then I read one of the many articles calling out the body-shaming, and I thought of the president, his wife, and their daughters. Specifically, about something Michelle Obama said about teaching her daughters how to cope with the nastiness directed at their family that they’ve grown up with. And I believe that what she said covers this perfectly:
    She told them “When they go low, we go high.”
    If we believe ourselves to be better than them, it is incumbent upon us to act that way, or else we’re the same kind of hypocrites we accuse them of being. (Yes, I know I’m using a lot of us’s and thems in this comment, but you can’t rise above anything if there’s no up or down; the rising works for its own sake, as Maya Angelou so famously noted, but we’re unfortunately dealing with the Trumpers here, specifically.)
    And, as my mother so wisely advised me the time I got frustrated and blurted out “Just because they are assholes doesn’t mean I have to be an asshole.” : “Well Doug, while I admire your position on that, I feel like I need to warn you that it is one tough row to hoe.”
    To which I have lately adopted the stance of “hoe or die.”
    The other thing I wanted to say is that there’s a difference between responding to personal attacks and spewing nastiness like a brown firehose. I used to read a political blog called Princess Sparkle Pony’s Photo Blog, written by Peter Huestis, or as he liked to be addressed “Peteykins”. (He’s still on twitter, but his blog hasn’t been updated in more than a year.) He is smart, and hilarious, and obviously, gay. He used to call out Aaron Schock, an Illinois congressman (who has since resigned over his inappropriate use of funds) as “gay Aaron Schock.” He even made a tag on his blog “republican hairdressers” in which he relentlessly made fun of how gay Aaron Schock is. When called out over it, he responded by noting all of the anti-gay legislation Aaron Schock had sponsored and voted for as a way to give his closeted status credibility. “He doesn’t have that credibility, and I’m sure not going to give it to him. Those laws affect me and every other LGBT person in the US, so we’re not bound by some code of ethics against outing people in his case.”
    Those people in Indecline, who made the statues no doubt were thinking about the time Trump called a woman a “fat pig” when they decided to respond by outing the easy mockability of his own body. That allows him to have set the tone for the discussion to an unacceptably low position. He went low, we have to go high, and feel good about having done so, because if we don’t, he’s right about us. He’s not, and your reaction to this story is proof that he’s not. Sorry for the excessive length here, but I have a lot to say about this subject.

  • Oddly enough, I wasn’t focused on the body-shaming aspect of until I read this. When I first saw the statue, I thought it was probably a pretty accurate representation of what his 70-year-old body looks like, and then moved on to what I find delicious about the installations: The idea of this larger-than-life persona that exists mostly as a projection of his own ego onto all of us, being exposed and stripped bare, showing us the would-be emperor truly has no clothes.

    It’s entirely possible, however, that I didn’t focus on the statues’ physical appearance because my mind utterly rejected the idea of a naked Donald Trump… 🙂

  • I agree. At first I loved the statues but then felt we had sunk in ugliness down to his level, quite a ways down. I agree though. With all that which is holy, the man must lose in November.

  • Beautifully stated. I did the same damn thing. As Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” So after snickering and not caring if his ego gets dinged, I have to admit that the statues went too far. He should be shamed for a lot of things he’s said and done, but not the size of his anything.

  • Beautifully written. I’ve heard about the statue, but haven’t gotten around to searching for it. Now, based on your insights, I won’t bother. Good for you for not wanting to pull yourself down in to Trumps mud. I’ll do cartwheels when he loses.

  • This is what I was just explaining to a younger person at work. She constantly throws in comments about someone’s appearance when she is angry at something they did. I’m always reminding her “You’re mad at what she did; you’re not mad because she’s heavy, so LEAVE THAT PART OUT if you want to be taken seriously”.

  • I doubt any of the statue stuff will have got through the rhinoceros like, narcissistic skin of that reprehensible toad of a man. I’m not sure that people like him can actually be hurt in the way that normal people are but yes, we must take the high road. It’s the only way we can win against this wave of obnoxious creatures that appear to be taking control of the planet. I watch from this side of the pond with the great hope that he will lose and lose badly. The lunatics have already taken over the asylum over here, please don’t let it happen there.

    • I feel so bad for you. I can’t even imagine. I have to think that he’s going to lose and probably lose big..but you just don’t know for sure, you know? Well..yeah, you really do, don’t you?

  • You are right of course. But is laughing on FB that the statue was “peach tinted) when we have always found him Cheeto orange o.k. ?

    Anyway, thanks for this post!

  • I feel bad for not laughing at the Trump statues. I feel bad because I understand why some people found them funny and I’m afraid that by saying I didn’t find them funny I’m going to come off as sounding superior when I’m really not.
    What I’ve realized reading your thoughts on the statues is that being a good person isn’t something one is or isn’t. It’s a process. Most of us are gonna laugh at the wrong things from time to time or wish ill on another person or think we’re superior when we’re really not.
    The important thing is to take those experiences as lessons and not shame ourselves.

    • yes! I am not ashamed that I laughed. I am not ashamed that there is some schadenfreude at work here on my part. I feel the way I feel. But I can’t get behind the shaming of another human for the way they look. Even Trump.

  • Now I want to see these statues. I promise I won’t laugh. Body shaming is never right. I do it to myself but I’m trying to change that voice now. I’m trying positive words instead of negative when I catch a glimpse of my 50-something YO body in a window reflection.

  • And it’s fucking painful for me to write that I think you’re wrong on this one. That statue is political satire at its best, it’s not body-shaming. Remember what it says on the plaque: “the emperor has no clothes.” Amen. You write about Trump that you, “loathe him. I abhor him. To me, he represents what makes a person horrible.” That’s how you express yourself, the artist who made the statue expresses himself in his way. You are two points on a continuum. (BTW, the artist, I think is himself rather rotund.) Both of you are in essence “shaming” Trump, the whole man. It’s the “body Trump” represented by the statue, not just his body. It may be offensive to some, not to others. Not to me, to me the man is ugly, body and soul. The artist showed that brilliantly.

    Right on to this though: “I need to start seeking out beauty where I can find it.”

    Respect. Anita

    • You and mountain girl have the same mindset on this. We discussed it friday night at great length until the bass player got tired of listening to it. haha.

      I get what you are saying. I really do. I just feel like shaming him (or his body type) brings everyone down and could potentially make other people feel bad as well. I don’t have a fuck to give whether he feels good or bad about it. My friend said the same thing, that it ISN’T body shaming. I dunno, I still see it as poking fun at a body type that is generally accepted as unattractive.

      I love this, though. This is how we grow and learn..when we listen to what other people have to say, especially when we disagree but we’re not dicks about it. XO

  • I’m really happy I read this post, and I hope many others continue to read it as well.
    Body-image is a prevalent aspect of self-esteem (unfortunately) and I agree that it should never be condoned, even regarding loathsome individuals such as Trump.
    Thank you for writing this piece. For many, it would have been a very frightening thing to do. And I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  • I have to say – I went through a similar way myself, laughing and then reading the body shaming article and feeling ashamed of myself. I’m better than that. There’s nothing I detest more than feeling like a hypocrite.

    • It’s the human condition, sister. I felt bad, briefly. I wholly admit that I have growing to do as a human and that sometimes my thoughts and behavior are unattractive or generally not helpful. I think what matters is the decision to change and once we make that decision, then shame no longer has a place in the equation.

  • Amen, to all of it.

    In addition to all of the above, part of me rejoiced in the statues because the target is a male politician — after so many years of female politicians being constantly judged on their physical form, their clothing choices, their hairstyles, ad nauseum.

    That part of me allowed for a nanosecond of hope, based on a tormented logic, that if men felt the sting of seeing one of their own stripped naked in such a public and hurtful way, maybe, just maybe, it would become an “aha!” moment for at least some of them; maybe some would get an inkling of an understanding of the infuriatingly unfair way in which most women in the public eye are routinely and unceasingly treated.

    And then my default existentialism kicked in and I realized that this is not likely.

    So, back to feeling that it is wrong to be amused at this loathesome human’s expense, at least in this particular body-shaming way.

    Unfortunately, I truly believe that there is no way to get this man to feel shame for any of the reprehensible things he has done or said; our only hope, I guess, is that even among his followers there may yet be some who are capable of feeling ashamed of him and of supporting him, and that they, ultimately, will not be able to cast their vote for him.

    • I love this. Very thoughtful. 🙂

      I just cannot wait for this election to be over. I have never been more stressed out over a presidential election..and I have stressed over them before, no doubt.

  • I had the same bloody come-to-my-version-of-Jesus moment on this issue.
    As a die-hard liberal (and also as a human with a heart), I despise that walking dumpster fire. But as a morbidly obese woman suffering the weighty side effects of a thyroid tumor, I despise body shaming with an intensity born out of first-hand experience.
    So, at first, I giggled when I saw the news, thinking, as you, of how much he must hate it. But then, I instantly felt ashamed of myself for partaking in a horrid practice of which I’ve been a victim. (Well, I mean, nobody’s put naked statues of me in public parks and then the news came and took pictures of the statues and spread those images worldwide, but I have been moo’ed at my strangers, so…. you get the drift.)
    My point is this: I am SO psyched that you recognized the duality of it, and then wrote this lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely piece.
    You’re my fave.

      • Didn’t know that! And yeah, they can be a complete bitch. They didn’t remove mine because they kept worrying about so many of the side effects of not having one, so they put me through all of these treatments and hormone therapies, and I swear, those were worse than if they just had just cut the fucking thing out of me. It’s finally testing well and has been given a clean bill of health, so, you know, yay!, but dayuuuuum, was that a LONG two years.
        Also, people are totally shitty to heavy people. I went from 156 to 301 (at highest, from which I’ve since come down), and good lord, it’s like there’s this whole other world exists that I just was not aware of until my ass started growing. Talk about not seeing my privilege before.
        I try to be all positive and upbeat and “this made me a stronger person,” but sometimes I just really want to shop in a “normal” store and have more than 3 swimsuits available in my size.
        Anyway, I’m ranting now, but only because it’s a topic dear to me, and you did such a wonderful job writing in a way that tapped into one of my veins of emotions. Well done, you.
        MWAH!

  • I guess I don’t really understand “art”.
    I did see the statues. I have also seen the mockery of his hair color and style. I see these tactics so lame and childish. It reminds me of the schoolyard chant “I know you are so what am I”.
    Love them or hate them, Trump and Clinton are presidential candidates. Is the best Americans can offer in the analysis of these two individuals is to strip them down to aging characteristics and body type as a method of degradation?

    UGH!!

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