While a friend waited with his family in the airport security line, a woman tapped his daughter’s shoulder. “You are just adorable,” she said, “so small and cute.”
The girl grinned, swayed shyly, but her father bristled. “Can you guess her age?” he asked, and when the woman said 11 or 12, he said, “She’s 23, about to graduate college. She weighs 80 pounds, and we are, this minute, taking her to treatment. Again. Because being small is literally killing her.”
We feel for everyone in this scene — the well-meaning woman, a sick girl, her terrified father at his breaking point — but a cruel truth remains: We reward girls for being small.
In America, size matters. We love our big stadiums, big yards, big screen TVs, and big trucks. Monster Trucks. So it should come as no surprise that our new president is as obsessed with size as we are.
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During the campaign he looked down on “Little Marco,” promised us a big, beautiful wall, pointed to his big brain and made daily references to the size of his rallies.
And who can forget his still cringe-worthy defense about the size of his hands.
Now that he’s been sworn in, it’s the size of the crowds. His, and everyone else’s.
In the hours that millions of women and concerned citizens marched in 50 cities and 70 countries — half a million in the streets outside the White House — our president was fuming over media reports about size. The size of his inaugural crowds. They were bigger than Reagan’s! And surely bigger than Obama’s, right? Right?!
He sent his press secretary to the briefing room to inform reporters that, without question, his crowds were the biggest crowds in inauguration history. Period.
He went to the CIA and stood before the Memorial Wall decorated with the stars of agents who died in service, and railed about his “war with the media.” About their (accurate, as it turns out) reports on the size of his inaugural.
And all the while, women and their supporters marched in record numbers, right outside the president’s front door. And he ignored them completely.
I was out of town, so on Saturday morning I joined up with a group on the streets of San Jose, while a neighbor back home in Kentucky flew to Washington D.C. for the big march. Many Kentucky friends gathered in the streets of Lexington and Louisville with their families. And with my own daughter marching in Chicago, I thought about my friend and his daughter, and about what size means.
How even a simple saying like, “you’re a big boy” conjures power, strength and fortitude, while “you’re a big girl” is more an indictment, a cruel proclamation that you are not only unsightly, but taking up more than your allotted space.
On Sunday, our size-obsessed president tweeted before dawn. “Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!”
Seriously, where is his head? Not on jobs or health care or our troops. Not on the CIA officers to who died in service, their stars on the wall right behind him. Not on the history-making march right outside his front door.
Not on we, the people.
On the plane back home to Kentucky, I scrolled through messages and social media and news and marveled at the scenes. Dozens of photos of peaceful, happy crowds. Pink hats and homemade signs for miles.
From San Jose to Chicago to Washington D.C. to Lexington and Louisville, we came out in force. Not to compete with the president’s crowds — who would even think of that? — but to gather. To support our fellow citizens. To protest peacefully. To celebrate women and girls.
Imagine if our new president and first lady had not only acknowledged the march, but crashed it, grabbed a microphone and said, “We don’t agree with you, but we hear you!”
Imagine the shocked crowd. Imagine the good will. Imagine the size, dear Lord, of the glowing, wall-to-wall press coverage.
In America, size matters. And everything about the Women’s March felt big.
Teri Carter is a writer living in Lawrenceburg. Contact her at http://www.tericarter.net/contact.html or on Twitter: @terilynncarter.