Donald Trump has been attacked by Hillary Clinton for his attitude towards women. Photograph: (Getty)
Alicia Machado says Trump bullied her after she put on weight after winning the Trump-owned beauty pageant
In the first US presidential debate of 2016 Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump's attitude towards women, citing the case of the former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado, of Venezuela. Machado was crowned in 1996, the year Trump bought Miss Universe Inc. She was 18 years old at the time.
Clinton has since published this video about how Trump treated Machado on her Twitter feed and has featured it prominently on her website:
In it, Machado says that when she put on weight after winning Miss Universe, Trump threatened to take her crown away, and called her "Miss Piggy", and, because she is Latina, "Miss Housekeeping".
"He was overwhelming, I was very scared of him. He'd yell at me all the time. He'd tell me 'you look ugly', or 'you look fat.'"
The worst humiliation came one day when, without warning, he called reporters to watch and record her working out in a gym.
"I wouldn't eat, and I would still see myself as fat, because a powerful man had said so." Machado says she was sick for years after, with eating disorders.
Around the time this was happening Trump spoke of it on the Howard Stern show, and he called her an "eating machine". He also told Newsweek: "We've tried diet, spa, a trainer, incentives. Forget it, the way she's going, she'd eat the whole gymanium."
This supports Clinton's claim that the Republican presidential candidate has an unhealthy attitude about women. In another recent Clinton ad, young girls are depicted looking at themselves in the mirror set against clips of Trump speaking about how he judges women's appearance. The question is raised, "Is this the president we want for our daughters?".
In last year's Republican primaries, when moderator Megyn Kelly said to Trump, "You call women you don't like, 'fat pigs', 'dogs', 'slobs' and 'digusting animals'", Trump responded, "only Rosie O'Donnell". The above examples are video proof that Trump has said nasty things about many women.
Machado also claims that her contract entitled her to 10 per cent of the proceeds from all the commercials and work she did as Miss Universe, but she received no payment.
The Trump campaign admits to no wrongdoing. The Tuesday following the debate he defended himself on Fox & Friends, saying Machado "was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem. We had a real problem". At no point in the debate, nor the following day when he brought up the topic of Alicia Machado on Fox unprompted, did he deny that he called her "Miss Piggy" or "Miss housekeeping".
While it may not be shocking to learn that the owner of a beauty pageant has a shallow, superficial attitude regarding women, no president should see half the population in such low terms.
The question of how Trump views women goes beyond how he judges their appearance, it impacts a range of important policy matters: abortion rights (Trump has said repeatedly he is "pro-life", but has shifted opinions before), equal pay in the workplace (he has sound unconvinced there is in fact a pay discrepency, which there is), maternity leave, other women's reproductive health issues and more.
If Trump can disparage women like Alicia Machado so publicly and unapologetically, what does he think about women who did not win Miss Universe?