Getting down and dirty

Last April, this column made note of painter Illma Gore’s full-body nude likeness of Donald Trump with a conspicuously small sex organ on display at Maddox Gallery in London. And here in the U.S. now, an artist who goes by the name “Ginger” has created a life-size nude statue of the Donald, also with miniscule manhood, produced in 6-foot-5, 80-pound in multiples and plopped in several cities in the U.S. - New York City, San Francisco, Cleveland, Seattle, Los Angeles and Miami. And like Gore’s painting, Ginger’s sculptures described Trump with a sagging belly and backside in a shiny pink skin complete with visible blood vessels and veins.

A form of foul language

For centuries the nude has been the preeminent subject in painting and sculpture, beginning before recorded time. The undraped human figure has been a kind of spokesperson for artists’ thoughts and feelings about matters beyond the figure. Nudes, then, have a long history as a kind of language. But the portrait in paint by Gore and in clay by Ginger for a foul language – not for the nudity, but for the body shaming, the mocking of an over-sized belly and undersized genitalia, both of which perpetuates the myth that size matters and that anyone who falls short of what society deems acceptable is to be scorned. What we have here, then, is a form of discrimination no less prejudicial than looking down on someone because he or she is black or brown or gay or Muslim or Mexican or for whatever reason.

Body shaming

I rush to say that this column is no fan of Trump, mainly because he is a perpetrator of humiliations. He belittles, embarrasses and otherwise keeps alive the idea that there’s only one way of being, one way of thinking, one way of feeling about the body. His call for President Obama’s birth certificate was a way of saying that a black-skinned person can’t be president. And when he showed disdain for 18-year-old Venezuela-born Alicia Machado, crowned Miss Universe in 1996, for gaining weight, he was saying in effect that a beauty pageant queen can’t have curves. Of course the pageant is entitled to its own standard. But if Machado no longer met that standard, there are ways to deal with that besides publicly tagging her “Miss Piggy” and dragging her off to a gym with reporters watching. Body shaming is no small thing. Machado told the New York Times that as a result of Trump’s treatment of her, she developed eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia – which are potentially fatal.  

Moral of the story

This is not to say that Trump is the only villain in this story. Paola Torrente recently ranked second in the Miss Italy beauty-pageant and was praised for her beauty despite her unconventional body size of 14. But the Daily Mail reported that she suffered outcries against her size on social media. All that said, as upsetting as Trump’s body-shaming has been, doing it to him makes us just as reprehensible. #Donald Trump #Art