By Claire Zillman
July 14, 2017

When President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrived in Paris yesterday, they were greeted by French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte. In a brief exchange, Trump appears to tell the French first lady: “You’re in such good shape.” Then, turning to Macron, he said, “She’s in such good physical shape. Beautiful, isn’t she beautiful?”

(Some saw this as a reference to the Macrons’ age difference; Brigitte is 25 years older than Emmanuel. That is—notably—nearly identical to the age gap between Trump and his wife.)

Either way, the video of Trump’s remarks made the rounds, with some online commenters arguing that Trump’s brief comments don’t constitute news. At Fortune, we clearly disagree. Perhaps the aside wouldn’t have been such a big deal had it not fit into a pattern. If Trump hadn’t criticized the facial features of his primary opponent Carly Fiorina; if he hadn’t said he “wasn’t impressed” when rival Hillary Clinton walked in front of him at a debate; if he hadn’t tweeted that TV host Mika Brzezinski was “bleeding badly from a face lift” when she visited him at Mar-A-Lago; if he hadn’t singled out an Irish journalist during an Oval Office phone call with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, stating, “She has a nice smile on her face, so I bet she treats you well.” But Trump has done all that and more.

As women push for things like paid leave, equal pay, adequate and affordable healthcare, and better representation in corporate and political leadership—and even as the Trump administration voices support for some of these causes—it’s hard to ignore that the president, publicly, time and again, reduces women to their physical looks.



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