How To Talk To Trump Relatives Without Starting A Family War


When “making nice” isn’t an option

So, you’re going home for Thanksgiving to your family full of Trump voters.

First of all, ask yourself what kind of Trump voters they are. There’s a chance they are explicit racists who will proudly proclaim that they voted Trump because they hate women, minorities, and gay people.

If so, fuck them.

Those “different opinions” aren’t ones you need to indulge. That’s because they’re hate, not opinions. “I hate black coffee” is a different opinion. “I hate black people” is nonsense, racist drivel that isn’t worth your time. Different opinions will broaden your view of the world and make you bolder and more compassionate. Indulging racism will contract your view of the world and make you fearful and crueler.

So, if you come from a family of cheerful racists, allow me to congratulate you for not following in their footsteps. You may not be up to Thanksgiving this year. Or you may want to go home, but do not feel up to combatting their proudly proclaimed racism, sexism, and homophobia. That’s fine, too. You can love people even if they’re horrible. If that were not true, we would all have fewer exes. Go home, eat sweet potatoes, talk about Gilmore Girls and football, and go back to your real home.

But there’s a very good chance that you come from a family that is not openly racist or sexist or homophobic. In fact, you probably come from a family that might be very offended if you were to call them any of those terms. In that case, in voting for Trump, these people seemed to prioritize their finances or their party loyalty over rights for the country’s most vulnerable. If so, your challenge this Thanksgiving is to get them to care about some of the issues you’re concerned about. How can you get people to care?

Don’t Yell
It will be your first reaction to yell, “This country is appointing a cabinet of full-on racists, and our President-elect is on tape saying it’s cool to sexually assault women.” That is a sane reaction. Don’t do that. Assume they will have already heard a lot of media telling them those appointments and attitudes are acceptable. The only time Trump fans seem to feel it is appropriate to rage is if a diverse cast of actors begs a white man to represent all of them. So, whatever you do, remain calm during any discussions you are having. 

Do Not Try To Defend Hillary
Hillary was a beautiful angel we did not deserve. Now throw her under the bus. She’d want you to. There’s a chance your family voted not for Trump, but against her. Let your family talk about whatever they hated about her. Agree. (Yes, again, she was a beautiful angel. Still, agree.) Then talk about who your guy is for the next run. Do you love Tammy Duckworth? Cory Booker? Your local congressperson? Start talking about how those people would have been better candidates now so that your parents have already heard good things about them by the time the next election rolls around. Fox News, assuredly, won't say any good things about whoever is running, so get in early. 

Talk About What Trump Did To People They Like
They do not care if Trump was mean to Hillary or Obama. They do not like Hillary or Obama. Talk instead about how you think Trump was mean Ted Cruz’s wife. Or how he said that John McCain wasn’t a war hero. Talk about how those are things that really concern you. You may be able to find some common ground there.

Don’t Cry
Most healthy people are moved to sympathy when they see someone crying. So, it might seem curious that Trump voters do not appear to be. A lot of the Trump movement seems to focus on how being moved to compassion for others is weakness. They think that liberal voters crying is laughable. There’s a chance they might be sociopaths! But, if not, part of the problem could be that, in order for people to be moved by tears, they have to be able to sympathize with why you’re crying. These people voted for Trump, so they may not already be aware of what you’re afraid of. Make it clear—calmly—what you’re worried about. Maybe you’re worried that he’s made Steve Bannon, a man who was charged with choking his wife because she was making too much noise tending to their child, as an advisor. Maybe you’re worried about the fact that Mike Pence wanted to divert state funds toward conversion therapy. Or maybe you’re concerned about the fact that potential Attorney General Jeff Sessions was seen as too racist to serve as a judge. Say that these things concern you, and see how your family responds. You might be able to plant the seed that these are at least people to keep an eye on for the next four years.

Explain Fake News To Them
A lot of older people do not realize that much of what they read on the internet is not true. Try to illustrate where sources are just wrong with a fairly inoffensive and unambiguous example. For instance, show them this widely circulated picture of protests outside of the musical "Hamilton" where Mike Pence was booed.

Explain that it was actually from a rally weeks ago in Boston.

Note that we all have to be very careful about trusting anything we read online.

Get Them A Newspaper Subscription
This is the single most important thing I can suggest. As a follow-up to educating them about fake news, get them a newspaper subscription. Get it for a newspaper that you hate, but one they’ll actually read. The Wall Street Journal is good. If they like the short bursts of news they get online, consider USA Today or the New York Post. Just get them something that someone is fact checking and that feels some sense of journalistic responsibility to its readers. Anything is a step up from Don’t let them get their news from memes on their friends' Facebook walls. Besides, reading a newspaper over breakfast might appeal to their sense of nostalgia. 

Make It Seem Personal
Don’t talk about potential problems with the administration in the abstract. They may think that the policies Trump is thinking about implementing will not affect anyone they know. They will. Ask how their friend Lynn will do without Obamacare. Ask whether Marcia’s gay son is worried about Pence’s anti-LBGT stance. There is a chance they know a more diverse group of people than they think they do. Remember: No one is alone.

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds



Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.