Let's start with the obvious: When history remembers Heather Heyer, she will be described as so much more than "beautiful."
The 32-year-old paralegal died this weekend after she was hit by a car during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA. She was murdered while standing up against hate. The woman was a fucking hero. Full stop.
Today, people gathered in downtown Charlottesville for a memorial service in her honor. To highlight the event, President Trump tweeted, "Memorial service today for beautiful and incredible Heather Heyer, a truly special young woman. She will be long remembered by all!"
It took President Trump 48 hours to publicly mention Heyer by name. His tweet today — the first time he said her name on Twitter — with its focus on her appearance is immensely disappointing. And yet also not surprising coming from a man who has a history of making problematic remarks about women.
Last month, upon meeting Brigitte Macron, France's new first lady, Trump commented that she was in "good shape." In June, he interrupted a call with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to tell him journalist Caitriona Perry was part of Ireland's "beautiful press," and that same week he unleashed a crude attack on Mika Brzezinski's looks. Not even his daughter Ivanka is safe from her father's obsession with appearance.
Comments of this nature are damaging to women, who should be recognized for their accomplishments not their physical beauty. Heyer was much more than just the sum of her looks. She has been described by her loved ones as someone with strong convictions who wanted to help the most vulnerable communities. She used her voice to protest against inequality and hate. She believed that in order to create a better world, you need to take action. And she died fighting for her beliefs.
If the president only takes 140 characters to celebrate her life, he should choose those words carefully. (Perhaps a pointless request of a man who is so reckless, but we have to ask nonetheless.) Thankfully, Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, was able to do just that:
"Although Heather was a caring and compassionate person, so are a lot of you. And I think the reason that what happened to Heather has struck a chord is because we know that what she did is achievable. They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well guess what? You just magnified her."
"By golly, if I’ve got to give her up, we’re going to make it count," Bro said.