There's a long list of well-known women who have been mocked by Donald Trump for their appearances. Carly Fiorina, Rosie O'Donnell, Arianna Huffington — it goes on. But at the end of the first presidential debate on Monday night, Hillary Clinton name-dropped a somewhat less famous target of Trump's ugly insults: Alicia Machado.
It was a small mention in a response Clinton gave to Trump’s assertion that she lacks the stamina to be president. (Never mind that whole "circling the globe as secretary of state" thing.) The attack led Clinton to pivot to the greater problem of Trump's historical lack of respect for women:
One of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman 'Miss Piggy.' Then he called her 'Miss Housekeeping' because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name. Her name is Alicia Machado, and she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet she's going to vote this November.
Machado has gotten press in this election, namely because she is the embodiment of Trump's poorest treatment of women. Machado was crowned Miss Universe in 1996, a victory that would end in humiliation at Trump’s hands (his company owned the beauty competition). After the win, she gained weight, which in Trump’s book was an infraction punishable by public humiliation. Trump told multiple media outlets just how much weight she had gained and how unacceptable it was, even inviting reporters to film a workout session he had set up for Machado — a stunt she said she was ambushed with.
Machado said that this time in her life was humiliating, and led to years of battling eating disorders. She said that Trump called her "Miss Piggy" over her weight gain, and "Miss Housekeeping" as an allusion to her Venezuelan nationality. In a video the Clinton campaign aired, Machado also mentioned that Trump never paid her for the commercial work she did during her reign as Miss Universe. But she became a U.S. citizen to use the power of her vote to fight back against him.
Now she’s rewriting her story, using her experience with Trump as a rallying cry to call other women to vote for Clinton and make sure the #RataNazi ("Nazi Rat," as she refers to him on Twitter) will never assume the presidency.
Trump apparently still sees no wrong in what he did, then or now. During the debate, he responded by bringing up more attacks he's made on women, like O'Donnell, and then explaining why they were justified. He then appeared on Fox & Friends Tuesday morning to defend his comments on Machado’s weight by saying she was one of the worst winners he’s ever worked with in the competition. "She gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem," Trump complained. So what are you saying, Donald? That somehow means Machado deserved to be shamed on TV?
But at this point, I bet Machado knows not to take Trump's insults to heart. The more Trump demeans women, the more ammo she has.