Last night, an especially grotesque photo of President Trump began to circulate online. The image, taken by photographer and apparent Trump enthusiast William Moon, showed the sunset-lit president with the wind sweeping his hair back, revealing an especially striking contrast between whatever fake tan or coloration he uses and the ghostly pallor of the skin bordering his hair:
Moon also posted an even more disturbing black-and-white version:
The photo became an instant meme, and so irked Trump that he insisted it was “fake news,” and complained that his opponents would do “anything to demean” him:
Some suspect the images were altered, but Moon posted other photos from the scene, and after comparing his with press-pool shots of the moment, it seems apparent that the wind did indeed expose the fault line in Trump’s orange coloring:
It is of course hilarious that Trump would complain that he is being demeaned on the basis of his appearance. He has spent his entire career as a celebrity put-down artist, sexual harasser, and politician who relentlessly demeans his targets based on their bodies. He is especially cruel to women, having called his former lover Stormy Daniels “Horseface,” mocked Carly Fiorina as ugly (“Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Mr. Trump said during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”), and belittled such targets as Heidi Cruz, Rosie O’Donnell, and many others.
Trump likewise has mocked Jerry Nadler as fat; sundry opponents, like Marco Rubio, Adam Schiff, and Michael Bloomberg, as short; and had a period of fixating on the allegedly narrow size of Schiff’s neck.
Trump himself places more importance on appearance than any president in history, and perhaps any powerful person who does not work in modeling, television, or film. He staffs his administration in large part based on their appearance. He blocked a second term for Janet Yellen in part because she was too short, initially hesitated to hire John Bolton due to his mustache, and constantly praises the officials surrounding him because they look like they come from “central casting” — the job criteria he most values.
Yet Trump himself is not a central-casting pick for his job. (He was cast for the role of president in Sharknado 3, but he was tabbed to play himself, and tragically turned down the offer at the last minute because he decided to run for real president.) Despite being a tall, white male — the traditional American cultural norm for his position — his appearance is nonetheless anything but “presidential.”
He has to avoid wind, or guard against it by wearing a hat, lest it turn his combover into comic, flapping yellow wings:
As for his orange color, Trump is clearly aware that it creates a strange look, but he oddly blames it on newfangled light bulbs, and seems to believe that rolling back bulb efficiency standards will make his skin look normal again.
Trump’s superficiality is the main problem. That a president would bully others based on their appearance, and select his aides on their looks, is one of his many utterly disqualifying character traits. But as bad as it may be that the president does this, what tips it from the infuriating to the absurd is the fact that the body-shamer-in-chief is also quite possibly the most ridiculous-looking president in American history.
This post has been updated.