Donald Trump's major fat-shaming problem was on full display at the debate.

Another day, another group belittled by presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Women. People with disabilities. Muslims. Jewish people. Black people. Mexicans. Gay people. Prisoners of war. Transgender people. (Did I miss any?)

There's one group, though, that Trump has repeatedly, consistently mocked time and time again throughout his entire career, long before he got into politics — and it's one not enough people are talking about.


Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Trump has great disdain for fat* people. And it was on full display during and immediately after the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, 2016.

*Note: I will use the term "fat" to describe people in this article. Unlike Trump's usage, I am using "fat" as an adjective, not an insult.

Let's break down the three fat-phobic things Trump promoted at (and shortly after) the debate with some classic, cold, hard fact-checking.

Trump's two cents: After Hillary Clinton pointed out that Trump has called women "pigs, slobs, and dogs," Trump resurrected and defended his offensive, decade-old remarks against Rosie O'Donnell, claiming "she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her."

Fact-check: Calling O'Donnell a "slob" is a play right out of the Fat-Phobic's Handbook of Fallacies. Although our society pushes this narrative, the truth is that being fat does not mean a person is inherently lazy, unhygienic, incompetent, or any of the other negative stereotypes often ascribed to people with bigger bodies — including being a so-called "slob."

Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images.

Trump's two cents: In a mind-bogglingly random aside, Trump suggested during the debate that "someone sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds" could have been the one who broke into the Democratic National Committee's email server — a not-so-subtle suggestion that any know-nothing, inept person could do so.

Fact-check: Again, Trump perpetuated a seemingly inconsequential — but actually pretty dangerous — connection between undesirable traits and having a body that happens to be fat.

"Trump didn’t just express the standard disgust for fat bodies," writer Lindy West penned in The Guardian. "He positioned fat people as dangers to national security. The implications are familiar, even if the context is outlandish: fat people are lazy, bedridden, unscrupulous, untrustworthy, antisocial, gluttonous (for secrets!) and worthless as anything but a punchline."

West wasn't the only one unimpressed. Former Republican rival and Trump supporter Rick Santorum was seemingly just as perplexed as many of us watching at home:

Trump's two cents: During the debate, Clinton said Trump allegedly once called former Miss Universe Alicia Machado "Miss Piggy." He doubled-down on his attacks against Machado the following morning — as though her weight would ever be a legitimate reason to condemn her as a pageant winner — explaining in an interview with "Fox and Friends" that Machado had gained "a massive amount of weight" and it had become "a real problem."

Fact-check: In his follow-up interview, Trump didn't even try to deny that Machado's weight had become an underlying issue for him. And that's ... an issue. Instead of using his platform to help change a sexist, fat-phobic industry standard, Trump allegedly threatened to take her crown away after she'd gained weight, and, astoundingly, invited reporters to film her exercising without telling her beforehand in order to show the public she was on a weight-loss regimen.

"It was very humiliating," Machado said years later of Trump's treatment. "I felt really bad, like a lab rat."

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Of course, none of this is probably all that surprising to you — even if you're a Trump supporter. Voters have come to expect he'll spout whatever's on his mind, for better or worse. If that means saying something fat-phobic — like bullying overweight people at his rallies, demanding Chris Christie stop eating Oreos, or body-shaming Diet Coke drinkers — so be it.

But really, this isn't about Trump or whether his fat-phobic remarks will change the presidential race. It's about how those remarks hurt us — everyone watching at home.

Fat-shaming is often overlooked, sometimes because it becomes so frequent and so subtle that we get used to it. But we shouldn't.

Many of us have rallied together in defense of other groups — women, Muslims, military families — after Trump has insulted them, and rightly so. We should be doing the same right now for fat people.

Again, it bears repeating: "Fat" should not be an insult. It is an adjective. The problem isn't just that Donald Trump is calling people fat — it's that he uses "fat" as a catch-all term that implies a whole host of other negative, undesirable qualities.

The prevalence of fat-phobia continues to promote real-world discrimination, and comments like Trump's only add fuel to the fire.

Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images.

Fat-phobic biases by medical professionals means fat people are more likely to receive poor health care services. Being fat means you look more guilty in jurors' eyes. If you're fat, you're more likely to be seen as unhealthy despite the fact you can't actually tell much about a person's health just by looking at their waistline. And because workplace discrimination is a thing, fat women are more likely to get smaller paychecks than their skinnier counterparts. (Isn't it fun when sexism and fat-phobia collide?)

To be clear, Trump's certainly not the only politician who's made fat-phobic remarks — although maybe he's the worst offender? — and expecting him to change his tune before Nov. 8 is unlikely.

I'm not holding my breath, hoping Trump transforms into a body-positivity champion — but I am hoping his fat-shaming will spur some backlash from all of us and the way we treat fat people as a society.

I'm hoping Trump's blunt, non-P.C. style will actually shed a light on how hurtful, ignorant, and dangerous this "tell it like it is" mentality can be when it comes to fat-shaming.

When reality TV show hosts make fat-phobic remarks, it's a problem — but when those remarks are coming from someone who wants to be the leader of the free world, it's an utterly unacceptable show of disrespect and discrimination.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

via Pixabay

Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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