One could argue there’s a fine line between satire and shaming, but when it comes to Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour’s viral video “Dear Fat People,” she definitely crossed that line.
Even YouTube agreed — at least for a while — when they pulled the controversial video from their site, but they subsequently reinstated Arbour’s anti-fat tirade after complaints of censorship. Oh America. So what exactly has folks so upset? Well it mostly has to do with the internet jokester calling fat-shaming a mythical concept, mocking the body-positive movement started by said shamed fat people, and essentially making anyone who has ever battled the bulge feel like s-h-i-t all in the name of comedy.
Notable one-liners from Arbour’s message to fat people include:
“Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up. That’s the race card with no race.”
“Fat shaming, who came up with that? That’s f*cking brilliant! Yes, shame people who have bad habits until they f*cking stop. If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m okay with that.”
“Are you going to tell the doctor he’s being mean and shaming you when he tells you you have f*cking heart disease?”
“If you want to be positive to your body, work out and eat well. That’s being positive to your body!”
“I don’t feel bad for you because you’re taking your body for granted.”
“They forgot to tell you that plus size stands for plus heart disease, plus knee problems, plus diabetes.”
“Big sassy black women in church dresses are my favorite thing in the world, but I’m really f*cking selfish and I want to keep you around.”
Raise your hand if you’re obese and now feel motivated to lose weight.
Yeah, didn’t think so.
Arbour’s delivery may be novel, but her backhanded message of encouragement is nothing new to those who’ve been talked to in this manner their whole lives: Fatness is a self-inflicted condition imposed by lazy people who wallow in their obesity and want to be celebrated for it with and anyone who refuses to support said behavior does so out of love.
Except for when it’s done so out of shaming. Despite the familiar refrain of Arbour’s video, I still find myself baffled every time someone of her ilk has the unmitigated gall to speak to and about a group of people in this way. I once read that fat shaming is the last form of acceptable discrimination in America and I have to say this piece of “art” certainly adds credence to that argument. Shockingly, Arbour didn’t get into the health system burden argument so many fat shamers often venture into, which is why for the life of me I can’t understand what people find so offensive about obesity, specifically someone else’s obesity.
Since Arbour brought up cigarette smokers and meth users, I must point out that never in my life have I heard a comedic segment about how stupid it is for suburban white kids to cook up meth or for professional execs to puff packs of Newports throughout the day. But being fat, now that’s a punchline that could go on for days! Funny enough, while these shamers love to talk about the damage overweight people do to their physical bodies, no one wants to turn the mirror on themselves and look at the damage their imposing on heavy people’s mental health.
It seems to have occurred to no one that approaches like this are what the body positive movement was borne out of it. No one whose a member of this community has ever said its a good idea to force your body to sustain weight heavier than it’s frame can support for decades out of denial. What they have said is that it’s an equally bad idea to internalize the hate thrust at men and women like themselves who, for a number of emotional and physiological reasons, are not the image of picturesque health the media has mass-produced to us. If we can have sympathy for the 80-pound white girl who throws up her food every day because when she looks in the mirror she sees a fat person, why can’t we have the same sympathy for the 280-pound “sassy black woman” (who, by the way, doesn’t have the monopoly on fatness in America) who has to struggle to love her reflection every day she looks in the mirror and who uses body-positive hashtags (which aren’t specific to overweight individuals FYI) to help her along the way? Would #KillYourself be a better hashtag? I gather Arbour might agree with that movement.
If the only real justification for these hateful rants is that the fat person can do something about their fatness, I’d like to remind the world so can the anorexic teen, or the alcoholic, or the meth head. The thing is, no one is going to do anything if while they’re on the journey or thinking about starting it people make them feel like trash and expect them to apologize for their existence, which 99% of the time has no bearing on another human being and, unlike other addictions, can’t be hidden. If you think observing the life of a fat person is hard Arbour, imagine what it’s like being one who’s subjected to taunts like this on a regular basis.