Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Body-Shaming From the Oval Office? No, Thank You.

"She was the winner and she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was real problem for us." - Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking about Miss Universe winner, Alicia Machado.

Body-shaming women is an age old practice. We have been reduced to our appearances for generations. As women, we have expectations thrust upon us that include, but aren't limited to, cooking, cleaning, caring for children, working both outside and inside the home, and adhering to society's views of beauty. In the 1900s, women were expected to have tiny waists and remain completely covered. In the age of the "Roaring Twenties," women wore shorter and looser dresses to show their independence. In the 1950s, icons like Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly became the standard-bearers of beauty. In the 1960s, the bone-thin supermodel became a widespread standard of beauty which continues to present day.

If you take a cross-section of American women, most of us are not bone-thin. I can't speak for other areas of the country, but here in the South, we like everything deep fried and covered in either cheese, ranch, or both. These tastes tend to prevent the supermodel body that society expects us to obtain. I was super skinny at one time, and I have seen pictures of myself where I looked sickly. I never had an eating disorder, nor did I intentionally try to get so thin to please anyone; I was just under so much stress that I couldn't eat more than once every couple days. I was neither healthy nor happy. I looked and felt horrible. But according to society, I was thin, and that's what was important.

Today, I would likely be considered overweight, maybe even obese. My youngest is 16 months old, and I am still asked if I'm pregnant. Many people do not have tact when talking to women about their weight. I'll share the only rule when it comes to this topic: Don't talk about a woman's weight. Don't ask questions. Don't make assumptions. Don't shame her for being too big or too small.

I have heard teenagers tell other girls that they are fat, ugly, and whores based on nothing other than their appearance. I have seen men call women sluts, or ugly, or cows because they gained weight or weren't a size 0. If you ever glance at magazines, unflattering pictures of celebrity women are plastered all over the covers. And now we have a presidential candidate tweeting and saying negative things about women based on their appearances. This is dangerous and harmful. This teaches people that this is acceptable behavior. It's not.

As a mother of a precious, vivacious, little girl, I cringe at the thought of anyone calling her horrible names based on her appearance. As a mother of a son who is my sweet, little man, I shudder to think about him hurling those kind of insults at anyone. We can't allow this type of behavior to continue. We can't allow this type of speech to be spouted from the Oval Office. We owe ourselves, our daughters, our mothers, and our sisters so much more than that.

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