‘Fat Shaming’ hit the news again this week. For those of you who may have missed it, a YouTube comedian named Nicole Arbour put up a video entitled “Dear Fat People”, where among other things she argues that fat shaming is not a “real thing”, makes numerous derogatory assumptions about people who are obese and tells a story of her encounter with a “fat family” at the airport, all while claiming she is only saying all this out of a desire to help.
I’m loathe to give her anymore publicity, but I think it’s worth being able to see exactly what we’re talking about here:
Apparently at some point YouTube decided to take the video down before it was eventually re-posted (although some suggest it was Arbour who did so herself so that she could drum up additional controversy).
Understandably the video garnered a lot of backlash. Here are just a few of the more popular responses uploaded within days of her posting.
In interviews and social media since the video came out Arbour has claimed the whole thing was intended as satire. I don’t know. She’s clearly trying to be funny throughout the video, but the tone, at least to me, comes off as being mean-spirited more than anything else. The fact that she has since appeared completely unfazed by the negative reaction is what I find really unsettling.
And honestly, regardless of whether her video was intended as satire or not, the underlying messages are still there. It’s pretty clear that Arbour subscribes to the notions that “You’re fat because you’re lazy.” “Fat people eat whatever they want.” and “People who are overweight have no idea that their excess weight is impacting their health”. Not only does this demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the determinants of obesity, it’s just a jerk thing to do. This is also saying nothing of the fact that shaming about their weight actually drives people away from pursuing behaviors that may improve their health.
It’s encouraging to see so many people speaking out against this video, but as a quick scroll through the comments section of any article covering this story will show you, we still have a ways to go.
In the meantime, I implore you to simply have empathy for others. You don’t know their history or their struggles. Don’t judge someone without ever having lived a day in their shoes.