Demander-in-Chief: Fat-Shaming in the Age of Trump

Michelle Riddell Body Image

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Just two months after Melania Trump gave birth to her son, Barron, a reporter from the New York Post, who was visiting the Trumps at their Manhattan residence, marveled at how Melania had already lost all her baby weight. “Almost,” Donald corrected her. “She's almost lost all the baby weight. Actually, Melania is probably the only woman I've ever known who can concentrate a 4-pound weight increase almost entirely on her cleavage.”

You read correctly: four extra pounds. Of cleavage. Donald Trump spoke to a reporter, on the record, in front of his post-partum wife, about four extra pounds she was carrying (mysteriously in her mammary glands!), eight weeks after pushing a human out of her body.

To put Donald Trump’s response in context, consider Vanity Fair’s recent article “Inside the Trump Marriage: Melania’s Burden” in which a friend of the couple recalls “Trump remarking that he agreed to the baby on the condition that Melania would get her body back and that everything would go back to the way it was.” (Read full article here.) “He made it seem like a contract,” the source stated.   

Where to begin?

Donald Trump, weighing in at 253 lbs. (clinically obese by the Center for Disease Control standards), is a notorious fat-shamer. Publically denouncing women, even pregnant women, for being overweight is a favorite weapon in his arsenal of attacks, taking aim at the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, and former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Yet apparently, Donald Trump is exempt from his own criteria concerning BMI and should be judged by more than what the scales say. For a man overly concerned with his appearance, one would think he would understand the visceral pain inflicted when mocking someone’s weight, but it doesn’t seem to deter him.    

Throughout his years of fluctuating infamy, Donald Trump’s objectification of the women around him has been widely documented.  Examples of this include recent substantiated reports of dress codes and hair-length requirements for female White House staffers. During the nearly two decades he owned the Miss Universe Organization, Trump boasted of contact with thousands of beauty queens, “wearing nothing but high heels and bathing suits.” According to producers tasked with auditioning contestants for The Apprentice, Donald Trump insisted the women be attractive, and during one season, he even called for shorter dresses with more cleavage. These accounts reflect a pattern of behavior and beliefs consistent with what his friend witnessed during Melania’s pregnancy: Women are malleable, one-dimensional obstacles whose currency is negotiable.

In the milieu of such tales, Donald Trump’s agreeing to have a baby with Melania, his third wife, on the contingency that she return to her pre-pregnancy weight afterwards, is perfectly plausible.  As callous as it sounds, for a man who let it be known that he has never changed a diaper in his life, though he’s fathered five children, a spousal weight-loss rider falls directly in line with the narrative.

The President of the United States—the person responsible for governing on our behalf, issuing executive orders, appointing Supreme Court Justices, creating lasting policy by which we can prosper—this person mandated that the mother of his child return to her pre-baby weight. What are we to do with a scenario like this? How can we possibly feel that this man, Donald Trump, values that which we painstakingly endure in the course of Motherhood?

And what of his sacrifice? What shame has he been spared? To assess the first couple side by side—the dramatic age difference, her physical perfection, his indulgent physique—is as glaring an example of patriarchy as we have seen in a President and First Lady. The double standard Donald Trump operates under is as skewed as his marriage. Does he value the sanctity of life as a process of continuation, or simply as an end result? His flippancy and bravado surrounding a woman’s weight, particularly a mother’s weight, indicate an utter lack of understanding of the complexity and significance of childbearing as a biological function. A woman’s calling, whether she is a mother or not, is her whole being, and it is greater than the sum of any of her parts.

Our mission—in this age of escalating externalization, where the surface matters more than the inside and looks are meant to deceive—our mission is to dig deep, find what’s real, and stay grounded until the gilded veneer coating cracks and chips away.   

About the Author

Michelle Riddell

Michelle Riddell lives with her husband, daughter, and poodles in rural mid-Michigan where traffic stops for turtles, tractors, and threshers. She is a free-lance writer and an editor at Mothers Always Write. She substitute teaches at the local elementary school and is continually surprised by how much she loves it.

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