Beauty crosses paths with beastly cam­paign

Trump blasted for in­sults, de­fended for pro­tect­ing Miss Uni­verse brand

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER AND RALPH Z. HALLOW

Beauty queens and pageant pro­duc­ers were scratch­ing their heads Wed­nes­day at the up­roar over re­ports that Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump called for­mer Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado “Miss Piggy” when she gained too much weight.

No­body con­doned hurl­ing in­sults — or com­par­ing Miss Uni­verse to a Mup­pet char­ac­ter — but they de­fended Mr. Trump’s role in pro­tect­ing the Miss Uni­verse brand when he owned the pageant. Some even called the me­dia furor hyp­o­crit­i­cal be­cause TV news an­chors would lose their jobs if they gained too much weight.

Camilla Hans­son, who com­peted as Miss Swe­den in the 2014 Miss Uni­verse pageant, said look­ing healthy was “part of the con­tract.”

She ac­knowl­edged that no­body wants to be la­beled “Miss Piggy” or “Miss House­keep­ing.” Ms. Machado ac­cused Mr. Trump of call­ing her those names when she gained weight — re­port­edly more than 35 pounds — af­ter be­ing crowned Miss Uni­verse in 1996.

“Ev­ery woman needs to be re­spected re­gard­less how she looks, if she gains weight. No­body want to have a nick­name like that,” Ms. Hans­son said in an in­ter­view on CNN. “Hav­ing said that, be­ing a Miss Uni­verse, we know what the role en­tails. We know we have to be healthy, and we have all the pos­si­ble help to be so.”

She said the pageant pro­vides per­sonal train­ers and nu­tri­tion­ists to help the con­tes­tants stay in shape.

“Miss Uni­verse is a brand, and they like you to fol­low what’s within their sort of grand ethos,” Ms. Hans­son said, speak­ing via satel­lite from Swe­den.

She said Ms. Machado ben­e­fited from the brand.

“I’m sorry, of course, that she had to hear neg­a­tive com­ments,” said Ms. Hans­son. “[But] a plat­form like Miss Uni­verse, which I guess ul­ti­mately Don­ald gave her, is a mas­sive thing, and you can do a huge amount of good with it. So, yes, in a way she is who she is be­cause of that plat­form, and so am I.”

Ms. Machado’s weight prob­lem nearly cost her the crown in 1996. Her ef­fort to shed pounds also be­came a pub­lic spec­ta­cle when Mr. Trump in­vited re­porters to watch her work out in an ex­clu­sive Man­hat­tan gym.

The New York bil­lion­aire’s treat­ment of the beauty queen turned into a cam­paign is­sue when Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clinton raised it dur­ing a de­bate Mon­day, say­ing Mr. Trump is known for call­ing women “pigs, slobs and dogs.”

Charges of sex­ism and misog­yny have been sta­ples of Mrs. Clinton’s cam­paign as she works to drive fe­male vot­ers away from Mr. Trump.

“He loves beauty con­tests, sup­port­ing them and hang­ing around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss House­keep­ing’ be­cause she was Latina. Don­ald, she has a name,” said Mrs. Clinton. “Her name is Ali­cia Machado.”

Mrs. Clinton told Mr. Trump that Ms. Machado has be­come a U.S. cit­i­zen, “and you can bet she’s go­ing to vote this Novem­ber.”

The next day, the Clinton cam­paign rolled out a TV ad fea­tur­ing Ms. Machado, 39, who was 18 when she won the Miss Uni­verse ti­tle.

“He was over­whelm­ing,” she says of Mr. Trump in the ad. “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.’”

Ms. Machado also made the rounds of TV news shows, sham­ing Mr. Trump and ac­cus­ing him of con­tribut­ing to her eat­ing dis­or­ders.

Randy San­ders, who has pro­duced Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants for more than 30 years, said the TV news cov­er­age gave him pause.

“It’s the same thing if you’re a news­caster. If you’re on CNN, I as­sume they have a clause in their con­tract, and Jeff Zucker is not go­ing to be happy if his lead an­chor [gets fat],” said Mr. San­ders, re­fer­ring to the pres­i­dent of CNN.

“It’s all across the world. It’s in a beauty pageant. It’s in me­dia. It’s in me­dia big time,” he said. “I think there is some hypocrisy on all sides of it.”

He nev­er­the­less dis­agreed with call­ing some­body “Miss Piggy.”

“That’s a shame,” he said. “There is an ex­pec­ta­tion, ab­so­lutely, to pro­vide a healthy­look­ing body im­age.”

Be­yond chal­lenges to the le­git­i­macy of the con­tro­versy, ques­tions arose about Ms. Machado’s char­ac­ter and why Mrs. Clinton would at­tach her­self to some­one who has had brushes with the law and sor­did mis­ad­ven­tures.

In 1998 in Venezuela, Ms. Machado was ac­cused of driv­ing the car in which her boyfriend sped away from the scene where his brother-in-law was shot in the head out­side a church.

A month later, a Venezue­lan judge ac­cused Ms. Machado of threat­en­ing to kill him for in­dict­ing her boyfriend on charges of at­tempted mur­der.

Ms. Machado made head­lines again in 2005 when she went on a Mex­i­can re­al­ity TV show called “La Granga (The Farm)” and had sex with a cast mem­ber on cam­era. The episode prompted her fi­ance, Ma­jor League Base­ball out­fielder Bobby Abreu, to break off the en­gage­ment.

In 2008, Mex­ico’s at­tor­ney gen­eral said the fa­ther of Ms. Machado’s baby girl was drug car­tel king­pin Jose Ger­ardo Al­varez Vazquez, or “El In­dio.” Ms. Machado de­nied it and in­sisted the fa­ther was busi­ness­man Rafael Her­nan­dez Linares.

“In an at­tempt to de­mo­nize Trump, Hil­lary re­in­forces the im­pres­sion vot­ers have that she can’t be trusted,” said Ari­zona Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Robert Gra­ham.

“Her us­ing Ali­cia Machado to try to ma­lign Trump is another ex­am­ple of the sys­tem be­ing bro­ken,” Mr. Gra­ham said. “Machado threat­ens to kill a judge, she’s a sus­pect in a drive-by shoot­ing, she has known re­la­tions with a drug car­tel boss and she still be­comes a U.S. cit­i­zen.”

The Clinton cam­paign re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about its in­volve­ment with Ms. Machado.

Mr. Trump de­fended him­self by re­count­ing how Ms. Machado be­came a prob­lem for the Miss Uni­verse or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter she won the ti­tle and be­came the year­long rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the con­test.

“She was the worst we ever had. The worst, the ab­so­lute worst. She was im­pos­si­ble,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” pro­gram. “She gained a mas­sive amount of weight, and it was a real prob­lem. We had a real prob­lem. Not only that, but her at­ti­tude, and we had a real prob­lem with her.”

He said Mrs. Clinton dredged up the story and at­tempted to present Ms. Machado as if she were Mother Teresa.

“It wasn’t quite that way, but that’s OK. Hil­lary has to do what she has to do,” he said.

“In an at­tempt to de­mo­nize Trump, [Hil­lary Clinton] re­in­forces the im­pres­sion vot­ers have that she can’t be trusted. Her us­ing Ali­cia Machado to try to ma­lign Trump is another ex­am­ple of the sys­tem be­ing bro­ken. Machado threat­ens to kill a judge, she’s a sus­pect in a drive-by shoot­ing, she has known re­la­tions with a drug car­tel boss and she still be­comes a U.S. cit­i­zen.” — Ari­zona Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Robert Gra­ham

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ali­cia Machado, as Miss Uni­verse, made an ap­pear­ance with pageant owner Don­ald Trump in 1997. Mr. Trump was pre­sum­ably show­ing sup­port as Ms. Machado pre­pared to work out at the busi­ness­man’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida af­ter crit­i­cism about her weight gain.

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