Earlier this month, there was a big media flap when Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour posted a 6-minute video titled “Dear Fat People” on YouTube. People reacted by calling it all kinds of names including “most offensive video EVER,” and both YouTube and Google+ temporarily took down Arbour’s channels from their respective sites.
In this work, Arbour (who is herself a piece of work) expressed various sentiments about overweight people. For instance, she offered the suggestion that parking spaces for the obese should be at the far end of the parking lot to encourage exercise, because letting them have handicapped spaces close to the store is the moral equivalent of assisted suicide. This isn’t the harshest thing she said, but it will do for an example: “If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m OK with that.”
There was, of course, widespread criticism, to which Arbour responded via social media by noting that she is the first comedian in the history of YouTube to be censored. This is probably not accurate, and anyone interested in knowing more about it can ask comedian Brian Redban, among others.
Fat-shaming was not the only issue to which commentators reacted. Among the many allegations flung back and forth were accusations of sexism (because a male comic would not have faced such criticism for saying the same things), and a suspicion that Arbour deleted her YouTube channel herself to attract the sympathy due a repressed artist.
Emily Shire of The Daily Beast wrote:
While likely a gesture of support for overweight and obese people, YouTube’s alleged censorship enabled Arbour to claim the title of free-speech warrior and gloss over the inaccuracies in her rant….The true failure of Arbour’s fat-shaming rant was not its insensitivity or even its lack of humor, but that it was full of misinformation about the very real discrimination people who are overweight and obese face….However, a nuanced conception of weight maintenance is completely absent from Arbour’s video. Instead, the comedian seems to genuinely believe you can tease and torture people into weight loss.
Career-wise, posting that video appears not to have been the smartest move Arbour could have made. Film director Pat Mills, who had planned to hire her to choreograph some dance scenes for an upcoming movie, characterized “Dear Fat People” as unfunny, lame, and cruel, and announced that he never wanted to see Arbour again. In terms of entertainment value, the reply video made by the delightful Whitney Way Thore was far superior. She said, among other things:
I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. While PCOS is not the only reason I turned from a 130 pound 18-year-old to an over-300-pound woman right now, it is a really big contributing factor. So I’m so glad that you’re not talking about me. Except, you are talking about me, because you can’t see a person’s health from looking at them.
Thore points out that it’s pretty much impossible to know, from observation alone, whether someone has a medical condition. Or maybe they just lost their 100th pound after working for a year. Over all, this whole controversy has only succeeded in showing, once more, how truly useless fat-shaming is.
The photo on this page, incidentally, shows Whitney Way Thore practicing with her dance partner.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Comedian shut down after ‘Dear Fat People’ goes viral,” USAToday.com, 09/07/15
Source: “_YouTube ‘Martyr’ Nicole Arbour Is Wrong About Fat-Shaming,” TheDailyBeast.com, 09/08/15
Source: “’Dear Fat People’ comedian loses job over ‘fat phobic’ video,” zap2it.com, 09/10/15
Source: “What I Want to Say to Fat People: Response to Nicole Arbour,” YouTube.com, 09/05/15
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