President Donald Trump is a racist who, just days ago, reportedly called majority-black countries “shitholes.” He is intent on undermining the First Amendment. He is a liar and a right-wing extremist whose only major policy achievement is a tax overhaul that hikes taxes on the middle class in favor of the wealthy and large corporations. More than a dozen women have accused him of sexual misconduct.
Trump’s presidency is built on afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable. He and his policies deserve scrutiny, skepticism, questioning, debunking, protesting, and takedowns — his weight, on the other hand, does not. Focusing on his size is a distraction from all of the other pressing issues with his presidency, and doesn’t hurt Trump nearly as much as it hurts anyone else who is fat, uncomfortable in their own skin, or struggling with their body image in any way.
On Tuesday, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson briefed the press on Trump’s recent physical, revealing Trump’s height and weight. Members of the press and other White House-watchers seized on the opportunity to share their opinions about whether Jackson was telling the truth about Trump’s health. It quickly became a pile-on.
Brian Beutler, the editor in chief of Crooked Media, a new media company founded by three former Obama staffers, compared Trump’s body to “expertly fluffed mashed potato.”
Maybe if the soft stuff is all expertly fluffed mashed potato? https://t.co/cId2MKjUFF
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 16, 2018
CNN’s Jake Tapper shared a thread on Twitter describing Trump as the “third heaviest president in history” along with pictures of Presidents Taft and Cleveland, apparently as proof they were heavy men.
Per info on previous presidents from @MensHealthMag, President Trump has unseated President Bill Clinton to become the third heaviest president in American history, behind Taft and Cleveland. 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 (Going by lbs not BMI) https://t.co/ziqq8s6ZJ7
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 16, 2018
A meme quickly took off comparing images of Trump to professional athletes, an attempt to prove Jackson was lying about Trump’s weight, despite the fact that that isn’t how height and weight and muscle and fat work at all. Sports Illustrated ran a whole story with unflattering photos of the president alongside athletes, saying, “You can’t teach size, the old adage goes.”
Jay Cutler is 6'3" and 233. Donald Trump is 6'3" and 239. What a difference six pounds makes! pic.twitter.com/ECiWtPVtwn
— Ronald Reagan’s Spinning Corpse (@SpinningRonnie) January 16, 2018
Dallas Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott is 6'2" and weighs 229 pounds. According to Dr. Jackson, trump is approximately the same height and weighs 239 pounds – just 10 pounds more than Dak. I have eyes, can see for myself, and muscles weigh more than fat. So yeah . . . right. pic.twitter.com/WRp6FxeZ5I
— Mae T. (@mspoint1106) January 16, 2018
If Trump’s physician were lying about his weight, it’s worth addressing and adding to the long list of things about which the Trump administration is comfortable lying to the American public. Engaging in speculation may be tempting, but there is no proof that Jackson is lying. Former senior adviser to Obama David Axelrod tweeted Tuesday evening that he knew Jackson while working in the White House and that the doctor was a “very good guy and straight shooter.”
And the reaction Tuesday wasn’t about lying at all. Many people took advantage of the moment to express their disgust with a man’s body and knew they could get away with it simply because that man is widely disliked (and often deservedly).
Others will argue that Trump is quick to make fun of the appearances of people he doesn’t like. He defended himself against accusations of sexual assault saying, “Look at her… I don’t think so.” He tweeted that MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.” He hit North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un as “short and fat.” But stooping to his level serves no one.
And, as Vox reporter Zack Beauchamp so rightly put it Tuesday on Twitter, “The president won’t see your dunks, but lots of fat people will, and they’ll learn that you hate and are disgusted by their bodies.”
The point is: Stop talking about Trump’s weight. Stop comparing his body to other bodies. Stop speculating about his health. It’s a distraction, and it’s needlessly hurting many people who have done nothing wrong.