Hillary Clinton Responds to Teen’s Bold Question About Body Image

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Clinton said she was "so proud" of the Pennsylvania teen for bringing up body image at the town hall. (Photo: Getty)
Hillary Clinton said she was “so proud” of the Pennsylvania teen for bringing up body image at the town hall. (Photo: Getty Images)

The first question of the evening was a doozy on Tuesday at a town hall in a Haverford, Penn., community-center gymnasium. “I see with my own eyes the damage Donald Trump does when he talks about women and how they look,” said 15-year-old Brennan Leach to the guest speaker at the event, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a video by the Associated Press that was published by the New York Times (watch the full video below).

Clinton nodded in agreement as Leach continued to articulate a point that has been a very troubling theme throughout the 2016 presidential campaign. “As the first female president, how would you undo some of that damage and help girls understand that they are so much more than just what they look like?” the teen confidently asked, noting that at her school, “body image is a really big issue for girls my age.”

“Thank you!” Clinton shouted, according to the Times, as the crowd cheered. Brennan, of course, was referring to the Republican presidential candidate’s notorious, derogatory comments about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, who was called “Miss Piggy” by Trump in 1996 after she gained weight postpageant — and was mentioned by Clinton in the first presidential debate. She was also referencing the many times Trump has gone on record unapologetically calling women dogs, fat pigs, and slobs.

“We can’t take any of this seriously anymore,” Clinton insisted to the “largely female crowd,” according to the Times. “We need to laugh at it. We need to refute it. We need to ignore it. And we need to stand up to it,” she told the audience. The candidate — who has become something of a default women’s rights advocate during her campaign — added that the objectification, scrutiny, and policing of women’s bodies are issues that extend even beyond Trump’s statements.

“There are too many young women online who are being bullied about how they look and being shamed and mistreated,” Clinton declared, while sitting onstage between daughter Chelsea and the moderator, actress Elizabeth Banks. Her words come on the heels of one of her most recent condemnations of Trump: “Mirrors,” an ad that splices the GOP candidate’s vitriolic commentary about women with images of vulnerable girls anxiously assessing their own reflections.

“A person who’s flat-chested … is very hard to be a ‘10’” and “Did she have a good body? No. Did she have a fat ***? Absolutely,” are among the nauseating sound bytes by Trump that are sampled in the video. “Do you treat women with respect?” a much-younger Trump is asked toward the end of the video. “I can’t say that either,” he responds, smirking.

According to the Times, Brennan lost a friend to suicide last year, and Trump’s candidacy worries her. “It’s really hard for me throughout school to see the pain Donald Trump inflicts on my friends, “especially at such an insecure time as middle school and high school,” she said, according to the Times.

When asked,Clinton said that she had been “so proud” of Brennan for the question, according to the Times, which added, “She reminded the room that ‘young women begin to get influenced at earlier and earlier ages’ by social expectations of body image.” Clinton was quoted as saying that Trump’s ugly discourse on women’s appearances “has taken this concern to a new level of difficulty and meanness.”

Though Clinton herself has somehow avoided being the subject of Trump’s image-obsessed insults, she’s certainly not immune to the sexism. Shortly after the first presidential debate in September, Fox News anchor Brit Hume said that Hillary Clinton was “not necessarily attractive” during the telecast, as if that had any bearing on being president of the United States.

Though Clinton put a fine point on the absurd idea of insulting the appearance of a woman who’d won the title of Miss Universe — “My opponent insulted Miss Universe!” she said at the town hall. “How do you get more acclaimed than that? But it wasn’t good enough” — she made sure to highlight that it was just a symptom of a larger issue that affects all girls and women. “We’re not all going to end up being Miss Universe, I hate to tell you,” Clinton said toward the end of the event, according to the Times. “So let’s be the best we can be. Let’s be proud of who we are.”

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