There was global outrage when a 2005 recording of Donald Trump’s offensive comments about women emerged last week, but one person who stayed noticeably quiet was his former protégée, Jennifer Hawkins.
There are calls for the 2004 Miss Universe pageant winner to take a public stance on the presidential candidate, whom she once described as “very inspiring”.
On Saturday, Trump was forced to apologise for the leaked video in which he joked about sexually assaulting women and admitted to making a move on a married woman.
“I just start kissing them, I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump told Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump said. “You can do anything.”
At the time the recording was taken, Hawkins had recently finished up her year-long stint as Miss Universe after she was crowned in June 2004.
During her reign, Hawkins lived in New York City’s Trump Towers and regularly encountered the Republican presidential nominee, who has previously described her as “an amazing beauty”.
Media commentators are now calling on the pageant queen-turned-successful-businesswoman to comment on the alarming video from her position as both a Trump affiliate and a role model for young women.
On Tuesday, News Corp columnist Rod Chester published an opinion piece encouraging Hawkins to “take a stand against Trump”.
“Someone needs to warn Hawkins that she risks greater damage to her brand if she does not take a stand,” Chester wrote.
— Susie Thompson (@susewithhernews) October 11, 2016
MamaMia writer Nina Funnell also joined the chorus of calls for Hawkins’ opinion on the issue.
“Why, when Trump’s own Republican Party supporters are turning on him, does Hawkins still stay silently loyal?” Funnell asked.
Others have argued Hawkins has no obligation to comment given she has a positive relationship with Trump, one she probably hopes to preserve.
I'm great believer in 'speak as you find'. If she had no issue with him why should be obliged to do that for the 'sisterhood'. https://t.co/miB9OZbumw
— Peter Ford (@mrpford) October 12, 2016
In the past, Hawkins has had nothing but praise for the man who made her famous, crediting him with “inspiring” her.
“He’s really passionate and really driven. He’s like, ‘What’s next?’ He prompts you to think, ‘All right, what is next?’” she told the Daily Telegraph this year.
Last month, Hawkins was visibly uncomfortable when asked about Trump during an appearance on The Project.
“What fascinates me with the whole Miss Universe thing is Trump ran that right?” guest panellist Rove McManus asked Hawkins.
“Totally, yeah,” she responded.
“So that means you could have a future president’s phone [number] in your phone. You right now could send him an eggplant emoji,” McManus joked, referring to the text message symbol often used to represent male genitalia.
“You could do that right now, true or false?”
An embarrassed Hawkins deflected the question with a laugh and finger wag before confessing she could, in fact, get in touch with Trump if she wanted to.
“Rove, very cheeky … True,” she admitted. “Would I? No.”
Pushed for more information, Hawkins said: “I’m not getting into that.”
Other Miss Universe winners have used their platform to criticise Trump for his treatment of women, most notably the 1996 winner Alicia Machado, who Trump infamously nicknamed ‘Miss Piggy’.
“When I was young, the now candidate, humiliated me, insulted me, disrespected me both publicly and privately in the cruelest way,” Machado said of Trump in an Instagram post.
“The same way this happened to me, it’s clear that throughout the years, he’s continued his actions and behaviour with other women.”
Former Miss Australia Jodie Seal, who also competed in the 1996 pageant, said on US television Trump would “put a lot of the girls down”.
Watch Jodie Seal talk about her experiences with Donald Trump:
“Donald Trump was the first American man I’d ever met … it was quite a shock,” Seal told CNN.
“We had to wear swimsuits to restaurants. He wanted us to be sexy all the time.
“For an older man of influence who was running the show for his first year to kind of come up to you and say ‘stick your tummy in, stick your gut in’ … I think it’s very condescending.”
Meanwhile, Hawkins clearly plans to continue her less-is-more approach when it comes to Trump – her representative did not respond to The New Daily‘s requests for comment.