EDITORIAL: Trump-Clinton clash buries fat-shaming

October 4, 2016

The presidential campaign of 2016 will be remembered for many things - most of them negative - but you have to give it this: It has buried forever the lingering notion that it’s OK to make fun of someone because he or she is overweight.

That’s something that decent people never engaged in. And it has become increasing unacceptable in recent years to ridicule heavy people. But if there were any holdovers who still didn’t get the message, the clash between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should have finally opened their eyes.

The credit, ironically, goes to Trump for his criticism of former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado - as revealed by Clinton in their first debate. Machado gained some weight after she won in 1996 - how much is still in dispute - and Trump let her know he wasn’t pleased,

Trump’s defenders have said that a beauty queen should be held to higher appearance standards. But that still doesn’t justify anyone calling her “Miss Piggy” - or forcing her to participate in a degrading press conference at a gym where a trainer put her through various exercises as Trump watched and said, “This is somebody that likes to eat.”

The larger lesson that seems to be finally registering is that a few extra pounds doesn’t make anyone less human. The issue is particularly sensitive for women, who have long been held to unreal physical standards by men who usually are not ready for the Mr. Universe competition themselves. A person’s weight - high, low or medium - has no effect on his her ability to be an accountant, a teacher, a technician, a clerk, and so on.

That of course dovetails perfectly with the same point about race, creed, gender, etc. Society seems to have realized that, but now it’s time for body size to join the list.

Most of us don’t look like fashion models. In fact, when fashion models aren’t made up and posed and lighted for the camera, many of them don’t look like fashion models. If this campaign helps all of us focus more on the inside than the outside, it may be worth all the grief it has put us through.