In light of controversial remarks from Donald Trump — some recent, and others recently resurfaced — that cemented the presidential nominee's reputation for objectifying women, Mike Pence had an opportunity on Thursday to differentiate himself from his running mate and demonstrate his support for body positivity.
But he came up a little short.
In a television interview, a Columbus, Ohio reporter asked Pence to comment on an 11-year-old girl's response to Donald Trump's message in his campaign commercials.
"When I hear those words and look in the mirror, they make me feel bad about myself," the girl reportedly told the reporter's colleagues.
Pence's response to the girl's concern? Not exactly on the nose.
"Well, I would say to any one of my kids and any children in this country that Donald Trump and I are committed to a safer and more prosperous future for their family," he said. "The weak and feckless foreign policy that Hillary Clinton promises to continue has literally caused wider areas of the world to spin apart, the rise of terrorist threats that have inspired violence here at home, and we've seen an erosion of law and order in our streets."
In other words, Pence completely avoided addressing the 11-year-old girl's concern, even though body negativity is a pressing issue for much of the American public and has become a major campaign talking point.
A 2016 survey from Yahoo Health found that children first experience being ashamed of their bodies as early as age 9 or 10.
Here are three things that Gov. Pence could have said instead in response to the 11-year-old girl's concern — and that we hope he considers in the future.
1. “I’m sorry.”
We've seen people do the right thing before by apologizing for body shaming. While hearing a sincere apology from Trump would be ideal, getting that apology from Pence could go a long way.
2. “I appreciate her honesty.”
One of the most crucial ways people can help end body shaming is standing up to it and thus shedding light on its harmful impact.. Pence could have thanked this girl for calling out body shaming and empowering other women to do the same thing.
3. “I want to help.”
There are many ways that we can work together to ensure that little girls feel good about themselves, regardless of whether they're looking in the mirror. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, it can be as simple as paying them thoughtful, non-body-centric compliments. But as the vice presidential nominee, surely there's much more that Pence could do.
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