Is Trump Turning ‘Fat’ Into a Swear Word? — Science of Us

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Picture: Maddie McGarvey/Getty Images

The Donald, ever the linguistic innovator, appears to have hit upon a fresh, yet old, swear word. As John Kelly notes at Slate’s Lexicon Valley, Donald Trump is now the country’s leading wielder of the “Other, Other Fword”: fat. To Trump, being overweight is a titanic violation, at least if you’re a girl.

The two of the most extraordinary cases are the Miss Universe winner Hillary Clinton brought up in the very first argument, Alicia Machado. Clinton’s expertly placed discussion lure prompted Trump to really go on a cringe-inducing tirade the next day about how “Machado gained a huge amount of weight and it turned out to be a serious issue,” among other brilliant phrasings. The larger thorn in the Donald’s side is, needless to say, Rosie O’Donnell, who criticized Trump and mocked his hair on The View a decade past. In a foreshadowing of 2016, Trump got on Entertainment Tonight and phoned her, as the New York Times has it, “disgusting,” “a slob,” and someone with a “fat, nasty face.” He said he needed to see her in court and “take some cash from her fat ass pockets.” He’s called her “my pleasant small fat Rosie,” a “degenerate,” and “a girl out of control.”

The Donald is setting up fat as a kind of slur, an epithet for dehumanizing a group of people. Kelly takes his definition of profanity from University of California, San Diego, cognitive scientist Benjamin Bergen and his new novel . There are four principal varieties across languages, which Bergen captures in what he calls (for better or worse) the Respectively, profanity worries the holy, the sexual, the physical, and those referencing denigrated groups — racial, sexual, gendered, or (in this specific instance) physical. It represents the values of a society: In areas where the Roman Catholic church was culturally dominant, most hexes continue to be spiritual: tabarnack (“tabernacle”) in Quebecois, porca Madonna (“pig Madonna”) in Italian, in a few Spanish dialects, copón bendito (“blessed chalice”).

In modern-day American English, the successes of equality have made identity-based insults taboo. “Gay” and “retard” and “faggot” used to be trivial insults, but have since been made taboo, similar to how calling someone “a prohibited” is currently largely understood as a horrible approach to discuss undocumented immigration.“Societally, we’re understanding, or at least seeking to understand, a greater range of identities and experiences than simply race, gender, and creed, and this also consists of power, age, mental health, immigration status, and, yes, body,” Kelly writes. As our approaches towards such groups change, so does. ‘Fat’ fits this tendency.”

From the manner Trump bellows it, “fat” isn’t only anatomical, but mental — it indicates a failure that is private. Even its euphemistic counterparts — curvy, plus size, heavy, fat, chubby — all take plenty of shaming, revealing how huge of a deal weight is in the culture, and the way it’s tied (in the eyes of some) to private worthiness. Like star Harvard linguist Stephen Pinker has argued, the euphemism doesn’t shield from the psychological content of the word it’s hiding. Trump offers the case study: “We’re all a little chubby, but Rosie is only worse than most of us,” he said. “But it’s not the chubbiness. Rosie is a really unattractive man, both in and outside.”

The more that authorized or oppressed groups are contained in what society deems to be okay — the acceptable it’s to make use of words that demean them. Just like we all (more or less) learned in kindergarten, among the ways you show reverence to individuals isn’t dissing them. However, fat, in a way, is distinct: Tellingly, the Grammy-winning vocalist Sam Smith has said that he’s manner more influenced by being called “fat” than “faggot.” “I believe only because I’ve accepted I’m proud to be homosexual so there’s no problems there and that, if a person calls me a faggot, it’s like, I’m homosexual. But if someone calls you fat, that’s something I need to modify,” he said. With this type of culture of fat- intimidating and shaming, some girls have began recovering the word, therefore, they say, defusing it of its mental loading. Fat “was a matter that I and others could utilize to tear me down,” one reclaimer told Bustle last year. “But using it as a self-descriptor is a means for me to take the pejorative organization the word frequently carries and turn it on its head.” However, if “fat” were to be made taboo in the manner “retard” (another Trumpist reference) is, that would be a Band Aid upon an ethnic wound. “If the word fat becomes taboo, subsequently we’ve simply recognized the unacceptability of dissing individuals on the foundation of weight,” Kelly writes. “This doesn’t mean we’ve dismantled the belief that being big-boned, a physical state, is naturally and objectively wrong or bad.”

On the other hand, the manner that fat is distinct from many other identity mark — of race or gender or sexual orientation — is that from a health point of view, being big-boned isn’t good for you. Increased threat of stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallstones, and specific cancers all come together with it, allowing to the National Institutes of Health, noting that “being heavy or fat isn’t a cosmetic trouble.” That pressure between body positivity — it’s acceptable to have different body contours — and medical reality —it’s unhealthy to get specific physical states — discloses a paradox that philosophers have pondered for ages: Your body is the way you experience the universe, a subject, and, really, it mediates the way you perceive it. But it’s also a object in the planet, a sign of your identity, if not your identity itself. It’s revealed in how I might say that I “have a body,” indicating that the perceiving “I” is in my brain or floating above me or someplace else, but if you were to speak to me, you’d see me as my physical, instantiated type.

This really is why to objectify someone — as Trump is so skilled at doing — is indeed dangerous, as it invalidates their subjective, phenomenological, embodied experience, and instead simply sees them mechanically, instrumentally. Really, clinical mental research suggests that self-objectification is a cause of eating disorders in girls — where they internalize others’ objectification of them, identifying more with the manner they’re seen than what they see in themselves. Using weight as an index of character, as Trump does, shows a similar objectification: Who you are is. And if he doesn’t would like to touch it, it’s not useful to him.