At the first presidential debate on Monday night, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton brought up some of the disparaging things Republican rival Donald Trump has said about women over the years, saying, “This is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs.”
But she focused on one story in particular: when Trump publicly denigrated former Miss Universe Alicia Machado because she had gained weight.
“One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest,” Clinton said at the debate. “He called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina.”
Trump seemed to potentially deny the charge at first on Monday night, repeatedly asking Clinton, “Where did you find this?” as Clinton told the story.
But on Tuesday morning, Trump went on Fox News and continued to make comments about Machado’s weight. “She was the winner” of the Miss Universe contest, he said, “and she gained a massive amount of weight. And it was a real problem. We had a real problem.”
“She was the worst we ever had,” he added. He said Clinton “talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way.”
Trump continues weight attack on miss universe https://t.co/lizbpeSinS
— Eddie Vale (@evale72) September 27, 2016
Machado has herself said that after she won the crown in 1996 and subsequently gained some weight, Trump — who had just taken over the Miss Universe franchise — publicly humiliated her. Trump went on the Howard Stern show and said she was an “eating machine.” He made Machado exercise at a gym in front of the media — something Machado has said she told him she didn’t want to do, to which he responded, “I don’t care.” He also told Inside Edition about the weight gain, “This is somebody who likes to eat.”
Machado said that she gained the weight because she had been abusing her body to lose weight in the lead up to the pageant. “I was anorexic and bulimic,” she told the Washington Post in 1997. “When I was preparing for Miss Universe, it was an obsession for me to not gain weight… The year leading to it, I didn’t eat at all. And whatever I ate, I threw up.”
She said she was 116 pounds when she won, which she called “skeletal.” The Post reported at the time that she was actually nine pounds below what is considered a healthy weight by the American Medical Association, and it was only when she started to gain weight and people started making comments that she was back in a healthy range.
Machado has also since said that Trump’s treatment of her made her relapse into those sicknesses. “After that episode, I was sick, anorexia and bulimia for five years,” she told the New York Times earlier this year. “Over the past 20 years, I’ve gone to a lot of psychologists to combat this.”