On average, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has publicly insulted a woman’s physical appearance once every 51 days since announcing his candidacy in June 2015.
Trump’s campaign habit is not surprising given his well-documented history of putting women down for their looks. Long before his fateful escalator descent last summer, Trump called Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington “unattractive both inside and out.” He described comedian Rosie O’Donnell’s face as “fat” and “ugly.” He even dismissed Esquire‘s first “Sexiest Woman Alive” Angelina Jolie as “not a great beauty.”
Trump has since tried to pass these and many other sexist comments off as “entertainment” from his past life as a television personality but, if that’s the case, he should have quit making them the day he started running for president.
But during a historic campaign when not one but two women have campaigned to be the nominee of a major political party, Trump has insulted both based on their appearance. He has implied that some of the dozen-plus women who have accused him of sexual assault are ugly and, therefore, their stories must be false. In so doing, Trump has turned back the clock to a time when women in public life could be degraded not just in the subtle and pernicious ways they still are today, but flagrantly and frequently.
Here are all the times Donald Trump has made crude comments about a woman’s appearance while asking the country for the keys to the White House.
Trump doubles down on his past Rosie O’Donnell insults
During the first Republican primary debate in August 2015, moderator and Fox News host Megyn Kelly took Trump to task for calling women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.” His now-infamous retort—”only Rosie O’Donnell”—drew laughs from the arena. It was also a lie. Trump’s public disdain for women has by no means been restricted to the former View host. When Kelly pointed out that Trump’s “Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks,” the candidate went on a rant about “political correctness,” China, and the U.S.-Mexico border. The closest he came to explaining his Twitter hate was to say that “oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding.” If that’s the case, Trump has been “kidding” ever since—but women have not been having “fun.”
Trump dings supermodel Heidi Klum’s rating on a 1-to-10 scale
After the debate, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd interviewed Trump and tried to convince him that Kelly was correct to call out his anti-woman Twitter tirades. Trump—surprise, surprise—disagreed. At one point during the interview, the candidate did concede, “Sometimes I do go a little bit far.” He could have left it at that. But instead, Dowd recalls, it only took him “a moment” to offer his unsolicited opinion on the physical attractiveness of longtime Victoria’s Secret Angel Heidi Klum: “Sadly, she’s no longer a 10.” Klum responded to the out-of-nowhere insult by revealing that she is now a 9.99. Trump’s poll numbers, on the other hand, have since fallen by a lot more than 0.1%.
Trump insults Carly Fiorina’s face
Trump managed to squeeze in one more misogynist, appearance-based insult before the next primary debate. It remains one of his cruelest. In September 2015, while he was being profiled by Rolling Stone‘s Paul Solotaroff, Trump saw fellow GOP candidate Carly Fiorina being interviewed on a TV inside his private jet. According to Solotaroff, Trump’s “expression sour[ed] in schoolboy disgust” at the sight of her. Then he launched into a diatribe about Fiorina’s facial features: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?! I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really folks, come on. Are we serious?”
The next morning, Trump backpedaled and said he was talking about her “persona.” And by the time he was confronted about the remark at the debate, Trump flip-flopped on Fiorina’s face, calling her “a beautiful woman.” Trump was perfectly willing to trash Fiorina from the privacy of his plane, but he couldn’t insult her face to her face. So much for him “telling it like it is.”
Trump retweets meme of Megyn Kelly’s GQ photos calling her a “bimbo”
Trump hasn’t only attacked women who he believes are ugly. In January 2016, he indirectly questioned Megyn Kelly’s credentials to moderate a debate because she is conventionally attractive and appeared in a GQ photo shoot. A Trump supporter on Twitter sent the candidate a meme showing Kelly in a tight minidress with the two-part caption: “Criticizes Trump for objectifying women. Poses like this in GQ magazine.” The supporter added: “And this is the bimbo that’s asking presidential questions?” Trump retweeted it at 6:30 in the morning.
Although calling a woman a “bimbo” is qualitatively different from calling her a “fat pig,” both insults are still fundamentally about looks. As Laura Bates explained in a Time op-ed: “To correlate Kelly’s question about Trump’s misogynistic comments with a completely unrelated photo shoot is to try and suggest that a woman who dares to be photographed or care about her appearance automatically forfeits the right to challenge sexism.”
When Kelly herself challenged Trump on his tweet, he said that it was “a modern form of fighting back.” It’s telling that Trump thinks using the term “bimbo” qualifies as modern.
Trump retweets an unflattering photo of Ted Cruz’s wife
After the “bimbo” tweet, Trump managed to go almost three months without insulting a woman for her looks. But in March 2016, he came out of hibernation to tweet an unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, the wife of Texas senator and then-competitor Ted Cruz.
Earlier in the week, Trump had issued a vague threat to “spill the beans on [Ted Cruz’s] wife,” but instead, he retweeted a meme with side-by-side photos of his own wife Melania and Heidi Cruz with the caption: “No need to ‘spill the beans.’ The images are worth a thousand words.'” At this point, the ensuing news cycle was predictable: First, there was public outcry. Then, Trump issued a non-apology, telling Maureen Dowd that the retweet was a “mistake” but insisting that the Heidi Cruz photo was not “necessarily” unflattering. Then Trump almost took back his faux-pology in another interview. Ted Cruz endorsed him anyway.
Trump says that Clinton doesn’t have “a presidential look”
Trump still hasn’t made it clear what he meant when he told ABC News anchor David Muir, “I just don’t think [Hillary Clinton] has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look.” During the September 2016 interview, Muir asked whether he was talking about “aesthetics,” but Trump deflected the question to talk about his own supposedly terrific temperament instead. Later, during his first debate stand-off with Clinton, Trump claimed he was referring to her “stamina” rather than appearance.
Trump never admitted it, but it was obvious to many observers what the “presidential look” comment was all about. The last 43 presidents, after all, have had a wide range of heights, weights, and body types but they all had one thing in common. You don’t need a “very good brain” to figure it out.
Trump criticizes former Miss Universe Alicia Machado for gaining weight
After Hillary Clinton brought up Trump’s weight-shaming comments about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, the Republican nominee didn’t have to take the bait. Trump had already allegedly called the 1996 pageant winner “Miss Piggy” and, because she is Latina, “Miss Housekeeping.” He also called Machado “an eating machine” in a taped Howard Stern interview. But as Trump is wont to do, he doubled down, calling into Fox & Friends the morning after the debate to complain that Machado “gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” But it was Trump who would soon have a “real problem” on his hands: His favorability among women slipped even further after the first debate, according to an NBC News / Survey Monkey poll.
Trump implies that his accusers are too ugly to have been assaulted
The allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump started piling up after he flatly denied ever kissing or groping women without their consent in the second debate. They now number over a dozen. And one of the key ways Trump has tried to deny their allegations is by implying they were not attractive enough for him to even want to touch them.
In mid-October 2016, after a small handful of women had shared their stories, Trump instructed supporters at a rally to “take a look at these people … and you’ll understand also.” In reference to People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who accused the Republican nominee of “pushing [her] against the wall and forcing his tongue down [her] throat,” Trump said, “Take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.” Aside from unwittingly implying that he might have groped these women had they met his standards, Trump was also reinforcing the myth that only attractive women are sexually assaulted—a myth that Lux Alptraum debunked for Fusion.
Trump again implies that an accuser is too ugly to have been assaulted
The day after Trump’s “look at her” comment, he told supporters at a Greensboro, North Carolina rally that another one of his accusers, Jessica Leeds, was a “horrible woman.” He didn’t stop there, adding: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. You don’t know. That would not be my first choice.” Leeds, a former salesperson for a paper company, accused Trump of groping her breasts and trying to lift her skirt during a flight in the 1980s. According to Leeds, “[Trump’s] hands were everywhere.” Trump has vigorously denied Leed’s account, along with every other sexual assault allegation made against him.
Trump makes an apparent reference to Hillary Clinton’s backside
Donald Trump’s campaign has made a lot of firsts. No presidential candidate from a major party has ever secured zero major newspaper endorsements. No presidential candidate has refused in advance to accept the results of the election. And none until Trump have made an untoward remark about another candidate’s butt. At the same North Carolina rally where Trump said that Jessica Leeds “would not be [his] first choice,” he told the crowd a story about his interaction with Clinton during the second debate: “I’m standing at my podium and she walks in front of me, right? She walks in front of me, you know, and when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.” Apparently even when you’re a 69-year-old woman who has served as first lady, a U.S. senator, and secretary of state, you still need to have a good butt to run for president.
Hillary Clinton has stayed “in front of” Donald ever since that debate—in the polls.
“The Woman Card,” a special examining the role women played in the 2016 election, premieres across FUSION’s digital platforms on November 4 with a one-hour special broadcast on FUSION Network, Facebook Live and Periscope Sunday, November 6 @ 9PM.