Fire spreads fastest online, and in the last couple of weeks, one of the most flammable names on the Internet has been Nicole Arbour. Arbour, a Canadian actress and comedian, published a video on September 3, 2015, called Dear Fat People. It has now gone viral, with over 30 million views (and counting) on Facebook and YouTube. The video is a monologue, and features Arbour making many negative and critical remarks about obesity and the term fat-shaming.
In some ways, Arbour is right – America has a serious obesity problem. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, over 30% of adults are considered obese. Furthermore, a third of the nation’s children are considered to be overweight as well. There isn’t one reason as to why Americans are so much fatter, but several: easy access to cheap fast food, not enough food that is cheap and healthy, a lack of exercise, a lack of nutritional education and making healthy choices, or some combination of all of the above.
However, this sad reality gives Arbour no right to completely degrade people who are overweight. Obviously, obesity is a serious problem in America, and but we cannot approach it in this way. First off, the ideas that prevail throughout the video are judgmental and uninformed. There are many people who suffer from diseases that cause them to carry extra weight. Whether it be because of physical, emotional, or even economic reasons, there are millions of reasons why people are overweight. It’s simply not fair to group everybody together based on one assumption.
What bothered me the most about this video was Arbour’s opinion of fat-shaming. Essentially, she states that fat-shaming is just something that fat people made up, and that they use it as a pretend form of discrimination. Also, if Arbour ridiculing others makes them lose weight, then she feels no remorse. First of all, a study from University College London proved that constantly fat-shaming others does absolutely nothing to motivate them to lose weight. It just further depresses them, and might even drive them to become more overweight because of emotional eating or “yo-yo dieting” (dieting for short periods of time and then binging afterwards). Second, fat-shaming is a serious problem and should not be taken lightly or made fun of. It’s the 21st century. We should be able to accept people regardless of what body shape they have. Whether one is obese or not, they should be treated with respect, just like everybody else.
The masses of people who have seen the video are definitely fighting back though, and the criticism Arbour’s video has received truly demonstrates how much more accepting our society has become in regards body positivity. Many critics have called the video tired, and, honestly, it’s not even funny. Hundreds of response videos have popped up – made by people of all body types – that offer support for those who weigh more, and that rebuke many of Arbour’s original claims. There have been many different positive body campaigns over the past decade, and many have been very successful in promoting a positive body image for every single person. Even though there will always be people like Arbour who are judgmental and hateful, it’s nice to see that so many more people are willing to overlook appearances and truly look at the person inside.