I watched a sickening 20-year-old video today. A crowd of male reporters, cameramen and boom operators surrounding a 19-year-old winner of the Miss Universe contest working out because she was “overweight.”
That young woman, Alicia Machado, was forced to work out by pageant partner Donald Trump that she would lose the 18 pounds she gained after being crowned in 1996.
It was disgusting to watch and the mother in me felt for the teenager she once was. She was in the national spotlight again because she was referenced in the Presidential debate, then again when Trump doubled down the next day by telling a morning show that she was a horrible person and had gained a lot of weight.
Machado has since said that she developed an eating disorder after that period in her life and was traumatized by the experience, as we know, of course, she would have been.
Google the headlines and you will see that it wasn’t just Trump fat-shaming her back then. One CNN headline: “Expanding Miss Universe Works to Shed Pounds,” with a picture of the beautiful, skinny, young woman.
People are talking about this today with shock and horror as if this type of shaming is a long-ago past-time and we have now evolved to a much more compassionate people. Oh, how I wish this was true.
Shaming women is a game still played in 2016 all the time.
As a victim of domestic violence, I have been the recipient of so much judgment about my behavior in the face of abuse. Here are just a few comments I’ve heard:
- Why did you stay
- Why did you leave
- What did you do to make him so mad
- Why can’t you let it go
- Why can’t you just get along
- When will you let it go
- Just ignore it
- Rise above it
- Think about your kids instead of yourself
- Stop acting like a baby and put your kids first
These are real comments that domestic violence victims hear from their family, friends, custody judges, lawyers, parent coordinators, television pundits, and on and on. All of it causes shame and pain.
The judgment cast on women in this country has got to stop. It is damaging the fabric of our society.
Women have had it too hard for too much.
In the playing field of life, women are absolutely at a disadvantage, but I’m so inspired by so many women who keep pushing forward despite it.
Yes, we have women on the main stage pushing hard to be in the game, but I’m inspired by those women like Machado, who came forward and spoke about that experience 20 years later and what it did to her over the course of her life. I know that her story will help other young women re-examine how they see themselves.
I am inspired by a friend of mine who is fighting now through a horrible custody case with her abuser over their young daughter. She isn’t catching many breaks before the legal system, but she hasn’t given up, not one day. In the months and months of this trial, she continues to search for help and advice from around the world to help her protect her daughter. Her resolved and strength is amazing.
I am inspired by my sister, who doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind about her beliefs and show her incredible intellect, even in a room full of men willing to shoot her down or roll their eyes.
These women have inner strength and courage beyond imagination. There is too little applause for women like this. It is time for that to change.
It is time for us to hold accountable those who turn to stereotypes and sexism as reason behind any behavior. It is time for us to hold up those women we know who are swimming against the current and lend our support.
Thank you, Alicia, for sharing your story. You have certainly changed lives for having done so.
Julie Boyd Cole is a mother of two sons, a journalist, writer and business woman. She has written for the Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, Yahoo.com among many publications around the country. She is the author of “How to Co-Parent with An Abusive Ex and Keep Your Sanity” available on Amazon.
Currently, she is the chief executive administrator of a non-profit in North Florida. And Julie is a survivor of domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband, an NFL sportswriter, and today is an advocate helping other victims sort through the trauma of domestic abuse.
Julie also writes for bruisedwoman.com and @bruisedwoman on Twitter about the topic of domestic abuse, co-parenting with an abuser and the emotional damage caused by narcissists and personality disorders.
Surviving domestic violence wasn’t easy or the PTSD that followed, but Julie has found a path through the trauma and now encourages all women that they can too. Julie leads YANA support, speaks to church groups, community groups and women made homeless by abuse. She can be contacted at [email protected]