How the media helped Donald Trump fat-shame Alicia Machado

Donald Trump talks to reporters about helping Alicia Machado, then Miss Universe, lose weight in January 1997.
Image: cnn

Imagine sitting before a scrum of reporters while two men discuss your weight-loss goals.

They call you beautiful but talk about how they hope you will look on camera: feminine and soft, weighing somewhere between 125 and 130 pounds.

It would be hell for almost any woman, and Alicia Machado has attested to that fact. When the former Miss Universe gained weight after winning the crown in 1996, her employer and pageant owner at the time, Donald J. Trump, paraded her before reporters to detail a new fitness regimen and describe her passion for eating.

Machado, now a U.S. citizen and Hillary Clinton supporter, has spent much of this week talking about how the Republican presidential nominee publicly and privately humiliated her 20 years ago.

Instead of ignoring and denying her claims, Trump appeared on Fox & Friends and said Machado was “the worst,” claiming that she’d gained a “massive amount” of weight during her Miss Universe reign. Machado says she gained less than 20 pounds; Trump told the press two decades ago that number was 60 pounds.

By early Friday morning, Trump went on a Twitter tirade against Machado, calling her “disgusting” and claiming she’d appeared in a sex tape, which does not appear to exist. Hours later Machado released a statement calling Trump’s remarks “cheap lies with bad intentions.” Then Buzzfeed published a non-sexual scene from a Playboy soft core pornography video in which Trump appears.

The misogynist spectacle that unfolded on Twitter echoes the one he staged with Machado back on January 28, 1997. Though Trump smiled and joked through the press conference, the message was clear: he considered it his right to lift Machado up or tear her down.

Trump, however, had willing accomplices in the media. Young people who watch the CNN footage today might be appalled by how freely members of the media participated in fat-shaming Machado.

The opening of CNN’s web story was also appalling.

“When Alicia Machado of Venezuela was named Miss Universe nine months ago, no one could accuse her of being the size of the universe,” wrote Jeanne Moos, then a correspondent for the channel. “But as her universe expanded, so did she, putting on nearly 60 pounds.”

At the press conference, reporters in the three-minute clip direct their questions to Trump while Machado nods and grins, occasionally letting her facial expression hint at anger and embarrassment.

“What is your advice to Alicia,” asks one reporter.

Well I dont think Alicia needs much advice, Trump says. I felt that Alicia was one of the most beautiful women Id ever seen. It was incredible. Alicia is like me and like a lot of other people. I love to eat, we all love to eat and she had tremendous pressure put on her with the win and everything else and some people when they have pressure dont eat and some people when they have pressure eat to much, like me, like Alicia.

Referencing his own eating habits seems like a generous move until the conversation turns to Machado’s looks prior to and after winning. “When she won the contest, I had never seen anyone more beautiful,” Trump says, before noting that she’ll attend the pageant “a little heavier than when she won it.”

When Trump proceeds to tell some of the reporters in attendance that they have “weight problems,” only then do they voice some displeasure with the body-shaming he’s peddling.

Contrast that picture with media coverage today. When the Clinton campaign published its video featuring Machado’s story on Monday night, it quickly became the subject of outraged Facebook posts and tweets as well as negative coverage for the Trump campaign.

The headline of a lengthy Cosmo profile of Machado read, “Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado Won’t Be Defined by Donald Trump’s Fat-Shaming.” A New York Times story called Machado “shamed and angry” in its headline. Maria Cardona, a Democratic political strategist and Clinton supporter, implored voters not to cast a ballot for a “fat-shaming misogynist” in an op-ed published by The Hill. Even Late Show host Stephen Colbert lambasted Trump for his comments.

“Twenty years ago there wouldnt have been this kind of backlash.”

Media commentary like this was once hard to find outside of the feminist press, says Jennifer Pozner, author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV and executive director of Women In Media and News, an organization that works to increase the presence of women in the public debate.

“Twenty years ago there wouldnt have been this kind of backlash,” Pozner says.

In the 1990s, there was a robust discussion happening within activist and academic circles about the emotional, physical and psychological toll of beauty ideals. Seminal books like The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women and Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, for instance, were published in the first half of the decade.

Yet, Pozner says, the media ranks were hardly diverse. And even if a woman held a senior position in a newsroom, that wasn’t license to challenge sexist assumptions that framed coverage.

“That was a quick way to get yourself a reputation as someone who ‘whines’, ‘cries’ and is a trouble maker,” she says.

Now women have more visible roles in newsrooms and often welcome the opportunity to express critical opinions on gender dynamics in their reporting and via social media. Pozner credits this partially to the feminist blogosphere that flourished in the early aughts, injecting public debates with a dose of intersectional analysis of gender and equality.

Despite the progress, however, “gross standards” and “gross representations” of women are still part of in pop culture and sometimes journalism.

“Its not that weve eradicated misogyny,” she says.

Indeed, Trump’s surrogates, including Newt Gingrich and CNN commentator Kayleigh McEnany both defended his comments about Machado’s weight this week.

But the media’s response to Machado’s story this time indicates something important has changed in the way journalists cover gender. That may be of little consolation to Machado years later, but perhaps it gives young girls hope that casually shaming a woman’s body is no longer a deed that goes unpunished.

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David Hernandez

Matthew McConaughey on weight gain for his role in ‘Gold’: It was ‘pizza night, every night’

(CNN)Matthew McConaughey is a pro when it comes to undergoing physical transformations for his film roles and in his latest movie “Gold,” he’s nearly unrecognizable.

The actor told an audience Monday night at a screening for the film that he gained 45 pounds to play businessman, Kenny Wells, who strikes gold in Indonesia.
    “I was getting pretty damn fat as Kenny Wells,” McConaughey said. “I was an all star in my family, nicknamed Captain Fun during that time because I was yes to pizza night, every night and it was cheeseburgers and beer.”
    McConaughey is no stranger to pushing the limits of his body. The actor lost more than 40 pounds for his role in the 2013 film, “Dallas Buyers Club.” The performance won McConaughey an Oscar.
    But the one-time “Sexiest Man Alive” went in the opposite direction for “Gold,” and said that by the time filming began he clocked in at a “soft 217 pounds.”
    Surprisingly, perhaps, McConaughey said it’s more fun to slim down than bulk up. But after six months of workouts to return to his ideal weight?
    “I still have a few things that are renting to own,” McConaughey said.
    “Gold” hits theaters December 25.

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    David Hernandez

    Too Many Fat Pigs Are Making Hogs the Biggest Commodities Loser

    Ham, bacon, ribs, pork loins — if it has to do with pigs, prices are in the doldrums.

    Hog futures were the worst investment in commodities last quarter and in the past year. Thats because there are simply too many pigs. Theyre so numerous these days that slaughterhouses will have to add shifts and operate on Saturdays in November and December to process them all into food, according to Will Sawyer, an Atlanta-based vice president for Rabobank International.

    The huge supplies are coming at a time of tepid export demand. China, which more than doubled U.S. pork purchases in the first half of the year, has now put the brakes on buying. Devaluation of the peso also threatens shipments to Mexico, the destination for 40 percent of U.S. hams. Wholesale prices for pork cuts such as ham and ribs are the lowest for this time of year since 2009. Hedge funds are signaling the meat will probably stay cheap, as speculators cut their bets on a hogs rally in four of the past five weeks.

    We have a black cloud over the market as a whole, Dustin Guy, a broker at PCI Advisory Services Inc. in Waucoma, Iowa, said by phone. The slaughter numbers have scared people from going long in the market.

    Bulls Retreat

    The net-long position in hog futures and options fell 15 percent to 26,315 contracts in the week ended Sept. 27, according to Commodity Futures and Trading Commission data released three days later. Thats the lowest since January.

    Hog futures for December settlement on Friday touched 43.975 cents a pound on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the lowest for a most-active contract by open interest since 2009. The contract fell 32 percent last quarter. It was the biggest decline in the Bloomberg Commodity Index, which tracks returns for 22 raw materials.

    Futures could fall to as low as 40 cents, according to Guy. Prices that low havent been seen since 2002.

    Pork output surged 10 percent in August to 2.15 billion pounds, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data released Sept. 22. The trend is likely to continue as weekly figures show that the number of slaughtered animals has consistently climbed in September from a year earlier. Hog supplies typically peak in the fourth quarter, which means even more animals are coming. U.S. production of the meat this year is forecast to be the largest ever.

    Obscene Supply

    We could have not just a record, but an obscene record supply, Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Illinois, said by telephone.

    As of Sept. 1, the U.S. hog herd rose 2.4 percent from a year earlier to 70.85 million head, according to a USDA report released Sept. 30. Thats the highest ever for the month in data that goes back to 1866. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expected a gain of 1.2 percent.

    Producers expanded after cheap grain made it easier to fatten up pigs — the average hog weight is almost 211 pounds, about 4 pounds more than the 10-year average. At the same time, there were expectations that demand would stay robust in China, the worlds biggest pork-consuming nation, after the countrys hog farmers culled herds. While exports in some weeks during April and May exceeded 5,000 metric tons, they sank below 1,000 tons in mid-September, USDA data show.

    The supply glut is a boon for consumers. Wholesale prices for hams, pork bellies, ribs and loins are all at the lowest in seven years for this time of year, and costs in grocery stores are reflecting declines. Pork is leading the way in meat deflation, which is occurring as the cattle, hog and chicken industries expand simultaneously. The USDA cut its forecast for 2016 pork prices on Sept. 23, forecasting a drop of as much as 5.5 percent from last year.

    Even though pork is cheap, hogs are cheaper, meaning that packers are still making money — margins have been profitable since July 2015. Earlier this month, margins were $52.20 a head, the highest in at least three years, according to HedgersEdge data. Those returns signal demand from the processors could help stabilize prices for hogs, said Chad Henderson, president of Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Cheap meat can also help reignite export demand.

    Were going to run into the point where you run out of new sellers in the futures market, Henderson said. The lions share of the down movement has been made.

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    David Hernandez

    Teen Addicted To Junk Food Weighs 324 Pounds, Then He Sheds Half His Body Weight

    Weight loss stories are some of the best transformations out there. Not because of the way the person looks, butbecause of the lifestyle the person is now able to live.

    Over one-third of Americans are obese, and it’s a lifestyle that is hard to change.

    People can become addicted to food, and often circumstances drive them to their position.

    So when the teen you’re about to meet, Austin, stepped on a scale and it read 324 pounds, he knew it was time for a change. He didn’t want to feel the way he did anymore, and he knew that his junk food addiction was affecting his health.

    He ended up sticking to his decision to change, and he lost over half his body weight.

    Now he looks unrecognizable.

    But his journey wasn’t over there. With his massive weight loss, he found that even though he was fit and healthy, he had pounds of excess skin on his body.

    In the video below, TV showThe Doctors helps him get tothe final step, and it turns out exactly how he’d hoped.

    For him to put in all this effort and change his life for the better, he definitely deserves the help hegets. He is an inspiration to so many!

    Bullies better watch their mouths, because now they’re the ones looking to Austin for help!

    Due to restrictions, this video cannot
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    David Hernandez

    Dad Is Stunned When His Weight Balloons, All Because Of A Fat Tumor Under His Chin

    When he was in his twenties,Stefan Zoleiknoticed his jaw was getting bigger… and it wouldn’t stop growing.

    In 2004, he was diagnosed with Madelung disease, a metabolism disorder that caused fat tumors to grow on his face.

    One of the tumors grew directly underneath his chin and spanned from ear-to-ear. At nearly 15 pounds, themass became so heavy that Stefan could barely move his head. In fact, he had to quit his job as a car mechanic because it was too uncomfortable to work.

    Not only did Stefan feel the physical effects of the tumor, but it took an emotional toll. People were constantly pointing and staring at his face.

    Despite his unusual appearance, Stefan got married and had two children. With a wife and kids to depend on, Stefan began isolating himself as hewas too ashamed to be out in public.

    In 2014, Stefan finally got the medical treatment he needed; doctors finally agreed to operate on him.Surgeon Igor Homola spent five hours cutting away the tumor at the University Hospital in the northern Slovakia.

    Now at47 years old, the surgery has drastically changed Stefan’s everyday life andhis appearance.

    In the end, Stefan realized it was hisfamily who provided him with the faith and support he needed, both before and after surgery.

    Finally, the husband and fatheris no longer ashamed of showing his face.

    Please SHARE this fascinating medical tale with your friends on Facebook.

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    David Hernandez

    Fat-shaming Trump might be a public service

    (CNN)There are two major factors that influence life expectancy: smoking habits and weight. And they’re heading in opposite directions.

    While smoking’s popularity has been plummeting for decades — fewer than one in five people still smoke — obesity has climbed to epidemic proportions and now affects more than one in three American adults.
      Obesity — dragged into the presidential race last week by Republican nominee Donald Trump — is a bigger threat to health and linked to higher rates of chronic illness than smoking, problem drinking or poverty.
      These two trends are not unconnected. The average tobacco quitter gains 11 or 12 pounds over the long run. Although the benefits of not smoking are calculated to offset damage from the increased risk of obesity, the obesity tide is eroding some of the gains in life expectancy from reduced smoking.
      Obviously, therefore, physicians are enthusiastically advising their heavier patients to lose weight, hoping for the same success as they have achieved with smoking, right? Well, no. In fact, even when doctors inform patients that their body mass index (BMI) is too high, few offer constructive guidance about how to lose weight, citing barriers such as lack of time, training and confidence.



        Clinton: Who gets up at 3 a.m. for a Twitter attack?


      Unlike smoking, a person’s flab is very much a part of them. Saying “you’re fat” comes to seem almost on a par with saying “you’re ugly.”
      However, Donald Trump has recently bucked this trend. The presidential candidate has talked publicly and disparagingly about the weight of Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner, and has previously called talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell a “pig.”
      The irony, not lost on many commentators, is that Donald Trump is not exactly slender himself. In fact, at 6 feet 3 inches and 236 pounds, according to his doctor, his body mass index (BMI) is 29.5, putting him on the cusp of obese (a BMI of 30 or greater).

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      Unlike the yoga-posturing, vegetable-munching Hillary Clinton, Trump doesn’t exercise. He eats buckets of fried chicken. He knows he should lose weight but his lifestyle gets in the way. He says he’s always been overweight.
      In other words, he’s like an awful lot of Americans. So perhaps Trump is doing us a favour, making it fair game to talk about his size as a way to open discussions about obesity without upsetting those of a more sensitive disposition.
      Perhaps fat-shaming Donald Trump might even count as a public service.

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      David Hernandez