Politics

The Way Trump Is Impacting This Country That We Need to Talk More About

When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's tried to dismiss his recorded discussion of groping as mere "locker room talk," debate quickly shifted to whether or not his words were also confessions of past actions. (He has denied allegations of groping.)

It was an important question, but his supposed "defense" of the comments highlighted another major issue in this campaign: what candidates say also matters.

And Trump's words have been having an impact on a group that rarely has their voice heard: teenage girls.

"[Trump] makes me feel extremely insecure about myself."

Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times spoke to various teenage girls from Sherman County High School in Moro, Oregon and Grant High School in Portland, Oregon to get their thoughts on our presidential candidates.

Unsurprisingly, many of them were encouraged by seeing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for president, with one teenager telling Miller, "although you’re told from a young age that you can be a president even though you’re a woman, you’ve never been shown you can do it, so this makes girls think they can."

Trump isn't as popular with this group and the piece further revealed that his words during the campaign have actually had a negative impact on these young women. In a national poll among teenage girls taken by The Times, their results showed "forty-two percent said he had affected the way they thought about their bodies."

Fifteen-year-old Morgan Lesh of Moro explained:

"That hits me hard when people like Trump say people who are skinnier than I am are too big. It makes me feel extremely insecure about myself."

Her friend Jordan Barrett, 14, had similar thoughts:

"Especially for girls in high school, rating girls on a scale of 1 to 10 does not help because it really does get into your head that they think I’m ugly or I don’t look good."

Trump, who used to own the Miss Universe Pageant, is fond of rating women on a 1 to 10 scale, saying in a Howard Stern interview, "I view a person who is flat-chested is very hard to be a '10'", though he gives model/actress Carmen Electra an "8" because, "I think the boob job is terrible."

"Miss Piggy"

Trump has allegedly referred to Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as "Miss Piggy" due to her gaining an amount of weight he deemed unacceptable. He later went on a Twitter rant in which he called her "disgusting" and suggested people check out her (seemingly non-existent) sex tape:

He has previously tweeted that actress/comedian Rosie O'Donnell is "a real loser" who is "fat" and suggested he would struggle with depression if he looked like her. He also tweeted that Arianna Huffington is "fully unattractive inside and out" and thus deserved to be left by her husband, and slut-shamed actress/humanitarian Angelina Jolie on CNN, adding, "I just don't even find her attractive."

When the media insults women, teenage girls are listening.

According to Just Say Yes, a nonprofit organization aiming to empower teenagers and build their self-esteem, "teen girls are more afraid of gaining weight than they are of cancer, nuclear war, or losing a parent."

They cite a grim stat from National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) that "70 percent of 6-12-year-olds want to be thinner" which suggests that poor body image begins even before girls enter their teenage years.

The media doesn't help: "research is increasingly clear that media does indeed contribute and that exposure to and pressure exerted by media increase body dissatisfaction and disordered eating," NEDA reports.

Sarah Hamilton, a 17-year old from Portland, told Miller that Trump winning would send her a poor message, saying, "I really would feel like the leadership in my country doesn’t want me to succeed. And even though I know the things he says about women aren’t true, I can’t help but feel disrespected and just kind of bummed out by it."

[h/t The New York Times]