In today's world -- in America, particularly -- we are bombarded with images and rhetoric on how people should look. Rail thin super models, six pack toting male models, all telling us that this is what we are supposed to strive to be in order to be viewed as desirable to the rest of the population. With obesity rates creating an epidemic of health risks, on September 3rd, Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour posted a video on Youtube entitled "Dear Fat People" [YouTube video removed].
In the video, Arbour launches into an attack of the overweight under the blanket of caring about the obese. She says:
Dear fat people … Argh! Some people are already mad at this video!
What are you gonna do, fat people? Are you gonna chase me? [...]
Fat-shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up. That’s the race card, with no race. If [I] offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m OK with that. You are killing yourself.
Vlogger Meghan Tonjes was understandably upset and responded to the video with a rant of her own in which she says:
Some of you grew up like I did; you’re going to fat camp when you’re 12, or you’re cutting yourself because you think that the world would be better without you, and you’ll never be enough. I get that on a very human level.
I don’t know why this video — out of all the things that I have seen — is so upsetting to me, I’m really upset about the Nicole Arbour video. And not necessarily the video, just the mindset that I find really upsetting, even if it’s done for like ‘satire’ or ‘comedy,’ which it just isn’t. I find it really harmful. A lot of girls … struggle with body-image. Of all different sizes. They really don’t need to hear this s***.
They both make other points: Arbour states that 'plus size' also means 'plus a multitude of health ailments' and 35% of North America is obese. Tonjes goes on to state that Arbour's commentary was lazy, contending that is easy to go after fat people, that it is harder to view people as a whole.
You can argue that Arbour used poorly contructed jokes in poor taste, but the issues discussed are still very real. One can contend that she just grabbed at a bunch of stereotypes, sprinkled in a few punchlines, dashed in some statistics, and finished by pressing record then uploading to the internet. After all the pretense, obesity is still an important problem.
Tonjes, along with the creators of multitude of response videos, have every right to be upset, but it does not diminish the issue of obesity. It is very easy to succumb to poor health habits that exasperate weight issues. Countless graphs and memes illustrate the relative cheaper cost of poor nutritional foods compared to healthier alternatives. It is also fairly easy to forego exercise and physical activity to plunk down for hours of video games or a Netflix marathon.
So where do we go from here? There is no need to call names or poke fun, but if your obesity is driven by poor choices, it is not okay to empower them by stating it is all right to live life by taking the easy way out of everything.
We are responsible for our actions, which should include cultivating good eating habits and exercise regimens. While it is not acceptable for people to shame fat people, it is also not okay to encourage and empower those who have become obese through poor health choices. Both Arbour and Tonjes have made their stances known, and we are all left to have a discussion.
Regardless of on which side of the spectrum you find yourself, please have a discussion and do not devolve into name calling or blanket accusations. Our mothers told us if we do not have something nice to say, do not say it. Perhaps Arbour's mother forgot that; it seems she took the lazy way to bring about awareness.
Just recently it was discovered that Arbour's page on Youtube was either disabled or deactivated by Arbour, herself. The site shows up as unavailable but lists no reason, which leans towards her personally deleting it. If she had been shut down by Youtube, the company would list a reason, which is not the case. It appears, however, someone is sour grapes about backlash and is passing the buck.