I was probably the last person to see the infamous fat-shaming video Dear Fat People by Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour.
I had never heard of her before. Truthfully, I didn’t find the video funny at all, and it was hard to sit through the entire presentation. I don’t remember many of the exact things she said, but I do vividly remember her saying she was doing this out of love and concern for the obese.
While most people who engage in fat shaming aren’t as blatant as Arbour, this claim that it is from a place of concern is one I hear time and again.
In fact, it’s something I heard way before the days of the internet.
My mother struggled with her weight for most of her life once she hit her 30s. Even though my parents split before I turned 5 and my father had not seen my mother for at least 15 years or more, one of the last conversations we had before he died earlier this year was about my mother’s weight. Amongst other things he shared was how physically “revolted” he was by her. He also went on a tirade about how she let herself go shortly after I was born, but concluded by saying, “I’m only saying this because it is so unhealthy.”
Somehow, in his mind, that last sentence made it all okay.
Based on the experiences I have had with my mother and several other overweight and obese individuals is that they don’t have to be reminded of the health risks that comes with obesity.
In fact, they couldn’t miss it if they tried given the endless articles and news blurbs about it.
The fact is, the reasons why people are overweight or obese are usually complex.
Eating better and exercising more is not always so easy or even possible for many.
While controversy over the perfect weight loss plans continues, the one thing that isn’t going to help is fat shaming like Arbour’s video.
Such things have nothing to with concern or love and everything to do with shame and trying to get a cheap laugh.
Ultimately, there is nothing funny about it.
If we want to show concern, we are better off supporting overweight individuals and letting them know they count—no matter what the number on the scale says.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Guian Bolisay/Flickr