Trump’s gross shame has been widely accepted and popular among progressives and liberals for years. The shame of fat does not harm Trump, but rather the fat average people, who internalize the shame of fat in public and get the message that their bodies are the subject of ridicule and should be a source of shame. Trump is one of the most incompetent and harmful presidents in our country’s history, but he should be criticized for his words and actions, not his body. Rebecca Bodenheimer is a freelance writer and cultural critic with a doctorate in ethnomusicology. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author. Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Joe Biden has been elected the next President of the United States. There is a light at the end of the long, dark Trump tunnel. While Trumpism as a phenomenon is far from over, the man himself will be leaving the White House in January.
Donald Trump will go down in history as one of the most incompetent and harmful presidents in history. From his disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to his cruel immigration policies and his tacit forgiveness of white supremacist rhetoric, it’s clear that Trump is a miserable leader and an odious person.
Despite this, I am tired of the pervasive and false shame of him by progressives and liberals.
The fatphobic comments directed at Trump don’t hurt him – he’ll never see most of them, as he lives in a media echo chamber that strokes his fragile ego. Instead, those beards are telegraphing big friends and family members of progressives that our bodies should be a source of shame and deserve to be ridiculed. Progressives’ mockery of Trump’s body lets us know exactly how you feel about fat people.
Progressives are often lipophobic
More recently, as election results rolled in and Trump incorrectly claimed they were rigged, CNN presenter Anderson Cooper called Trump a “fat turtle on his back, waving the hot son, realizing his time has expired “. The fact that Cooper resorted to fat shame in calling attention to Trump’s obesity reflects a widespread acceptance of fat phobia within our society. It was totally unnecessary to refer to Trump’s weight when commenting on how undemocratic and dangerous his disinformation campaign is.
On October 8, former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll shamed Trump on Twitter in a now-deleted quote tweet that read “Sir, I hear you weigh 1,300 pounds.” I responded directly, writing that although I supported her and believed her allegations of sexual assault by Trump, it was inappropriate to body shame her in order to criticize her horrific behavior.
These examples follow the bold-phobic comments by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in May, when she (wrongly) called Trump “morbidly obese” (his reported height and weight would classify him as “obese”) . And in 2018, when Trump’s medics announced his weight, Chris Hayes, MSNBC presenter, joked, “Did someone come up with the word ‘girther’ for those who [sic] believe that the president weighs more than what his doctor reports? ”
I see a lot of support for these phobic fatty cheap shots in my social media feeds. Over the past week, I haven’t befriended anyone for criticizing their support for Anderson Cooper’s comment. Some defend their right to shame fat by mentioning the fact that he has often shamed women so he deserves a dose of his own medicine. But why anyone would want to defend their right to perpetuate some form of bigotry just because Trump himself is doing it is beyond me.
Unlike racism, xenophobia, homophobia or misogyny, the phobia of fat is still widely acceptable in progressive public discourse. It is also a form of bigotry that harms many more people, as experienced across race, sexuality and gender – although of course it is much more commonly deployed against women. More than 70% of American adults are classified as overweight or obese, which means our social phobia about fat – reiterated by the media we consume – negatively affects around 231 million adults.
Fat phobia is more harmful than obesity
One very tangible way to see fat phobia causing damage is how deeply ingrained it is in the medical profession. As noted in this 2018 Michael Hobbes article, doctors have consistently ignored the “mountains of evidence” that shaming and pathologizing fat people as a method to get them to lose weight is completely ineffective – instead, they are actively harmful. Researchers have known for decades that diets don’t work for weight loss in the long term, and that body size doesn’t necessarily correlate with overall health.
Large patients hesitate to go to the doctor because of the prejudices they are subjected to. Their medical issues are often reduced to their weight (even though their symptoms are unrelated), leading them to be underdiagnosed for a variety of conditions, including cancer.
As Hobbes has reported, “negative words – ‘non-conforming’, ‘too lenient’, ‘weak will’ – appear in [fat patients’] medical history with a higher frequency. He also noted that some doctors outright refuse to see patients weighing more than 200 pounds, which is outright discrimination.
The irony of progressives perpetuating the phobia of fat is that the people who do the most harm are the people we claim to support and defend: people already marginalized, either by race, class, or both.
The Body Mass Index (BMI), the primary metric for classifying overweight or obese people, is deeply flawed as an indicator of a person’s health: it was designed only with white people in mind and not does not take into account the bones. muscle density or mass. This means that black Americans are more likely to be considered obese and at risk for diseases like diabetes, while Asian Americans are generally considered healthy (and therefore not at risk) simply because they have a low BMI.
In addition to BMI defects, fatphobia is rooted in anti-darkness. Sociologist Sabrina Strings traces fear of fat back to slavery, saying it was used to justify black slavery and classify them as slaves when skin color was not a reliable marker. She also believes that it is the structural conditions created by slavery, and not obesity (as it is commonly thought), that explain why black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. Black women already suffer three times the maternal mortality rate than white women and report their pain is not taken as seriously by doctors. Fatphobia among healthcare professionals only exacerbates the risks black women face in our healthcare system.
Soon we won’t have to endure countless news cycles to debate Donald Trump’s latest lie or inhumane political decision. But when he’s gone, there will still be plenty of fat people in this country – many of whom hate him.
Fat people are not inherently inferior, lazy, or less disciplined than thin people. The reason we need to remove the concept of obesity – often assumed to be a moral failure of fat people – is that it has no meaning beyond a number on a scale.
When I say it’s time to stop shaming Trump, it’s not because I care about his feelings or don’t like to gloat over his loss. This is because I want all bodily shame to end, because its psychological effects are much more harmful for fat people than being fat. Trump is bad because he is fat. He is awful because of his harshness and cruelty. Hit him for what he says and does, not what his body looks like.
Rebecca Bodenheimer is a freelance writer and cultural critic with a doctorate in ethnomusicology. She writes on a wide range of topics including pop culture, gender, fatphobia, parenthood, and Cuba.
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