Alicia Machado Is My Hero

Alicia Machado Is My Hero

"When I was young, the now candidate, humiliated me, insulted me, disrespected me both publicly and privately in the cruelest way"
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Recently, I stopped writing about politics and the presidential election mostly because it is cringe-worthy and also difficult to follow. And to be quite honest, the fact that I cannot vote because of a piece of paper is aggravating because the decisions affect me as well. Anyway, as I was searching for a topic to write about, all I saw all over the news was “Hillary this” or “Trump that” or “Kim this” (not that there’s anything wrong with Kim of course (except for the fact that she is somehow pro-Trump now??)). It’s almost as if the media is begging you to follow this bizarre presidential election and in turn I have writer’s block. See how that works out?

One particular story intrigued me as I was forced to watch the debate for two of my classes. It was the story of Alicia Machado. Machado was Miss Venezuela in 1995 and was crowned Miss Universe the following year. Much to her dismay, this was the same year Trump took ownership of the Miss Universe beauty pageant. Soon after Alicia Machado was crowned, she began to gain weight. In an interview with the New York Times (x), she says she asked the beauty pageant for help in becoming healthy again through doctors and a new diet plan. Although the pageant had agreed, the next day, Trump took her to a gym and made her work about in front of the press. When she told him she did not want to do this, he said “I don’t care” and said to the cameras “this is somebody who likes to eat” after he mentioned how many pounds she had gained. Alicia says she suffered from Bulimia and Anorexia for five years after what happened that day and continues to seek therapy even 20 years later.

Alicia has also said that Trump referred to her as “Ms. Piggy” and “Ms. Housekeeping” after she was crowned Miss Universe because of her weight gain and her race (x). When asked about these allegations, Trump told “Fox and Friends” September 26th, "She was the winner and you know, she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem. We had a real problem. Not only that, her attitude, and we had a real problem with her, so Hillary went back into the years and she found this girl -- this was many years ago. And found the girl and talked about her like she was Mother Theresa. And it wasn't quite that way but that's OK. Hillary has to do what she has to do."

This was a response to Hillary using Alicia Machado as a political weapon against Trump in the presidential debate last Tuesday. Alicia Machado has publicly come out saying that she supports Hillary and although many allegations have been made by the Trump campaign suggesting that Machado is being paid by the Clinton team or that she was granted her U.S. citizenship as bribery the Clinton campaign denies them. Trump's campaign team also started to deny the claims the Wednesday after Debate Night in a statement claiming her accounts were "totally baseless and unsubstantiated".

As if that were not enough, many rightwing news outlets such as this one published stories about Alicia Machado being a pornstar, threatening to kill a judge, not knowing who the father of her child is and posing naked for playboy magazine (although Trump posed for Playboy too and starred in a soft-core porn video for them too as seen here. Machado did pose for Playboy, twice but that is irrelevant. She did not appear in a sex tape and speculating about the father of her child has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Alicia reportedly responded to these accusations saying (http://www.mediaite.com/tv/fmr-miss-universe-machado-on-allegation-she-was-a-murder-accomplice-im-not-a-saint-girl/) “He can say whatever he wants to say, I don’t care… You know, I have my past. Of course, everybody has a past. I’m not a saint girl. But that is not the point now.”

Trump took to twitter to say Alicia was “disgusting” and that everyone should see the sex tape she’s in (there is no sex tape). To which she so eloquently responded with:


Donald Trump once again tries to publicly denounce a woman the same way he did so infamously 20 years ago. It shows nothing has changed and that all it takes for a woman to be defamed is slut-shaming and claiming she is crazy. As Lucia Graves in The Guardian put it, Alicia Machado does not have to be a “saint” in order for her claims to be valid. Her past does not dictate the way we should treat the man who single-handedly publicly humiliated her for her body and her race. In fact, her past is completely irrelevant and in no way overshadows Trump’s actions. Trump’s tweets are his way of saying that what he did is justifiable by the fact that he thinks she is “disgusting”. They are not justifiable. His fixation with female beauty and utter disrespect for women is what led many women like Machado into downward spirals. But Alicia is fighting back and turned her suffering into a weapon against the man who made her feel like she was nothing.

Cover Image Credit: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/09/former-miss-universe-once-accused-in-murder-plot.html

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Democrats Need To Split From Ilhan Omar Because Of Her Radicalism

Ilhan Omar's actions are only making matters worse for the Democrats and the country.

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Many freshman representatives have been gaining a fair amount of traction recently, either by the things they say or the legislation they push. One of these is Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. However, the reasons for the attention she has garnered are more negative than positive.

Earlier in March, Ilhan Omar accused American Jews of "dual loyalty," an anti-Semitic trope that has been used many times throughout history. She proclaimed, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." When Democrat Representative Nita Lowey called her out for such comments, Omar responded by saying, "I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress."

Most recently, she has come under fire over her comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, referring to this horrific event as "some people did something." Here's the full quote:

"For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

She could have reasonably apologized for that comment, saying that she used a poor choice of words and did not really mean it. But instead, she doubled down. Omar tweeted a quote from George W. Bush that says, "The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."She then followed up in the same tweet asking, "was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack? What if he was a Muslim?"

Omar and her defenders say that she is being criticized because she is a person of color and for her Muslim faith. However, there are other Muslim and African-American Congress members who aren't under any scrutiny like her. They don't associate themselves with anti-Semitism and downplay terrorism like Ilhan Omar did.

Now, Omar and her companions are suggesting that a video Trump tweeted, juxtaposing her 9/11 comments with footage of the attack is inciting violence. When asked if she thinks Trump is trying to incite violence against Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, responded by saying, "Absolutely." Omar replied to the video by saying, "Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country's Commander in Chief. We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop."

Has Trump used violent rhetoric before? Yes, he has, but the video he tweeted about Ilhan Omar does not encourage any violence toward her. It is dishonest to say it does and is an attempt to stifle real discussion. The actual people sending Omar death threats and the people honestly criticizing her are two entirely different groups.

If Democrats want to have a chance for 2020, they need to split from the radical area of their party, and that includes Ilhan Omar.

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