"Dear Fat People": A Response

I know I’m probably a little late to the game, but today I had the misfortune to stumble across “Dear Fat People,” a YouTube video uploaded by Nicole Arbour.  I will not degrade my blog with a link to this sad and disappointing excuse of a “comedic” video clip, but I will share my thoughts about it.

Long story short, don’t waste any of your time watching it.  All you’re missing is a sad woman making fun of morbidly obese people’s bodies and trying to justify her remarks by claiming that she’s merely concerned about their health.  Right.  I should disclose that I could not make it through the entire clip, so I cannot speak to the last two to three minutes of video.  I can however discuss the four or so minutes that I did watch, and I have so much to say.  

Firstly, body shaming of any sort should no longer be accepted as funny or even excusable.  I do not care if someone is being made fun of for being too fat, too skinny, too blonde, too pimply, too muscular…whatever it is!  Poking fun at other people’s bodies is not only grossly unfunny, but is significantly harmful.  While Ms. Arbour seems to think that her “jokes” aimed at obese people are justified because she wants them to be “healthy,” I am defiantly not laughing or agreeing with her.  

While I am not obese, I can certainly relate to feelings of shame due to jokes aimed towards my body.  Like millions of other people, I got teased in middle school due to a chunkier frame, and will always vividly remember a peer telling me that I “really needed to lose some weight” in 8th grade French class.  I have cried over my weight, felt ashamed when wearing a bathing suit at the beach, and agonized over how I looked in certain styles of clothing.  It’s no secret that these struggles would have felt trivial or even nonexistent had I not been teased in middle school, or raised in a culture where being “perfect” is everything.  

Even while I have and still occasionally feel terrible about my own body, I can only imagine how the targets of Arbour’s video feel.  Again, I repeat, THIS IS NOT OKAY, FUNNY, OR ACCEPTABLE.  Instead of making groups of people feel negatively about themselves and their bodies, maybe Ms. Arbour should have made a video that promoted treating yourself well and working towards a healthier lifestyle.  For the record, healthy is NOT synonymous with skinny, and sick is not synonymous with fat.  Instead of shaming people into making “healthy” decisions (Arbour suggests that fat people just stop eating altogether), maybe we should try *gasp* actually promoting body confidence in a real and doable way.  If we are taught to love our bodies, wouldn’t it make more sense to treat them well?
This being said, I do believe that people whose weight is leading to severe health problems (which can be true of “heavy” AND “skinny” people) should heed medical advice that guides them towards a truly safer and healthier life.  However, these lifestyle decisions are intensely personal and are the sole business of the individual.  Additionally, a person’s size, even if considered medically dangerous by some, should NOT render him or her as unworthy of self-love and acceptance from others.   

 It is certainly not Arbour’s place to post disgusting videos on YouTube that target fat people in the name of pushing them to be healthy.  Her clip is cruel, judgmental, indecent, and a shame.  I want to see videos like hers banned from the Internet and replaced by videos of people of all shapes and sizes promoting healthy lifestyles that everyone can achieve.  I want to see a community of these people promoting workouts to strengthen our minds and bodies, healthy recipes to nourish us, and body-positive messages to make our souls and spirits sing.  While it is true that some people, both big and small, should strive to better themselves in the name of all-around health (and not a number on the scale), Arbour’s fat-shaming method is sure as hell not the way to go about sparking those changes.  Only love can do that.

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