I grew up as the oldest of three sisters in a close Irish-Catholic family. My grandfather taught us that “beauty is as beauty does.” In other words, judge people by the content of their character, not their looks.

There has been an advertisement on television about weighing girls that was put out by special interests on behalf of Congressman Bruce Poliquin. That ad lies about a public health initiative that had such strong bipartisan support that it passed the Maine Legislature without a single recorded “no” vote.

Maine’s associations of doctors and nurses have called the special interest ad “false,” “outrageous” and “inaccurate.” But beyond the lies, the ad plays into — even encourages — shame, fear and anxiety about people’s bodies. It turns each of our bodies into a political weapon.

Like many people, I have struggled with my weight. I have been made to feel uncomfortable or unattractive. The idea of singling out a child sickens me. It is something I would never do.

That kind of false, disgusting attack hurts everyone — Republican, Democrat or independent. Mainers seeking to lead in this state and country should be judged on their experience, values and plans, not their looks or dress size. I want women, girls, men and boys from all backgrounds and experiences to feel empowered and valued, never demeaned or shamed.

Every Mainer deserves respect — for who we are and what we do, not how much we weigh.

Emily Cain, Orono

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