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The Naked Truth About The Trump Statues

This week, statues of Donald Trump began to appear, seemingly at random, across the United States. The statues depict him naked and fat. My slice of the social media world has absolutely exploded with glee about these pictures. The way the images are shared (and the commentary people add) usually makes clear that it is the fatness, combined with the small penis, that is “the funny part”. It makes clear that it is bad to be fat, and bad to have a small penis, and particularly bad to be both.

When you post pictures of the naked Trump statue, I think about the similarities to how I look in the mirror, and I wonder if you’re aware that you’re using my appearance to shame Trump. If you’re aware that the ridicule doesn’t just touch him–it touches me.

I wonder if you’d say, in other circumstances, that it’s not okay to attack people for how they look. I wonder if you’d say that mockery based on appearance is an ad hominem attack that has no legitimate place in our political sphere. I know you’d agree that it’s not okay for Trump to mock other people based on their appearance.

And the thing is, there are plenty of legitimate things to mock or attack Trump for. He’s advocated violence toward peaceful protesters, suggested that we should forcibly remove all of a certain kind of undesirables from the country (Muslims, in his case, but it still smacks of Lebensraum) in order to protect our freedom, implied that someone should murder his competitor for the Presidency, extolled his business acumen even though his business model seems to be rapacious thuggery filled with debts and empty promises, asked a foreign power to commit espionage against the government he hopes to lead… I could go on. There is plenty of material here. Nearly all of it is legitimate and based in scary facts.

What it says to me, when you post these pictures and laugh at Trump’s naked body, is that you consider fatness to be on par with these other issues. That Trump’s fatness is worth the energy to critique because it is as bad as his stances on Muslims and murder, his flagrant disregard for other human beings, his duplicitous and pandering words, his dangerous foreign policy approaches, and his evident disdain for millions of people.

It makes clear that you see fatness as a problem, that you see it as a moral failing deserving of correction and ridicule. It shows that some bodies are just not acceptable to you, because of how they look.

Isn’t this the same problem we’re trying to fight when we cry that Black Lives Matter? (they do!) Isn’t this the same bodily autonomy issue that touches on abortion and contraception and parental leave and Obamacare? Why is it okay to use someone’s fatness as a weapon?

Trump doesn’t have a monopoly on using bigotry and the politics of division to hurt people. Let’s do better, friends.


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One thought on “The Naked Truth About The Trump Statues

  1. To see some beautifully representative examples of the underlying issue here, check out http://www.democraticunderground.com/10028112323 , which has been discussing this post for hours.

    Apparently, critiquing this “art” is the same thing as being a “sensitive special sunflower”, and asking that people consider whether their corrosive humor has collateral damage is the same thing as censorship of an idea. XKCD has some good comments about that. (https://xkcd.com/1357/ )

    Also, several people seem confused about whether I’m claiming to have been the model for the statues. So, for the record, no.

    For the folks in the back, let me say again: when you use membership in a class as a tool for reviling someone, you’re likely to accidentally revile other members of that class, even though you didn’t mean it. The risk of collateral damage is high. If you don’t believe me, go ask pretty much anyone who’s a member of a less-privileged group how it feels when people tell jokes about their group. Ask about how it feels to have their group membership used as a signaling device for ridicule.

    Trump will not care that we criticize his body. He will–rightly–call it a cheap shot and name it as the ad hominem attack it is, and will probably point out that ad hominem attacks are typically the last refuge of people who don’t have any real arguments to make. Trump will not care. But meanwhile, it’s virtually certain that the body shaming will have hurt some bystanders–for no actual value.

    It’s a bad move to invest in an attack that has no chance of damaging your target and every likelihood of injuring bystanders who you didn’t want to hit. That’s bad strategy any way you slice it.

    Of course the artist has the right to make this ‘art’ and display it and share it, and each of us has the right to consider what we think. I think it’s a cheap shot that sacrifices moral integrity and hurts people while managing not to accomplish a single useful thing. So, there you go.

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