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.