Fat shaming: Bullying for Grown Ups

Fat shaming, bullying, body positivity, fat, diet, overweight, exercise

I’m a fatty. There I said it. I’m a 5 foot 1 chubster and, despite numerous attempts to get fit and lose weight, in times of stress and sadness I turn to food to make me feel better. Some people drink wine – I can take it or leave it. Some people smoke – I did that for about twenty years and successfully managed to quit. Some people take drugs – I worked for a long time with drug addicts and I am so grateful that it is cake I am addicted to and not crack. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I could tell.

I have written before about my struggles with my health, specifically my weight, and the reason I feel compelled to revisit this topic now is because of the furor surrounding the Dear Fat People video made by Canadian YouTuber Nicole Arbour. Arbour is, rather shockingly, 30, not 13, and is old enough to know better. The 6 minute tirade contains such gems as ‘they [fat people] smell like sausages even though they didn’t eat sausages’, tired old tropes about blonde girls (which is funny as she has roots dirtier than the toilets on a Monday at Glastonbury), and the fantastically ludicrous line ‘fat shaming. Shame people who have bad habits until they fucking stop.’ A statement so simultaneously arrogant and simplistic it makes me want to eat my own ears just for having heard it, but then being a fatty I do want to eat everything.

The video concludes with Arbour declaring ‘I’m not saying all this to be an asshole… but I really hope this bomb of truth exploding into your face will act as shrapnel that seeps into your soul and makes you want to be healthier so that we can enjoy you as human beings longer on this planet.’ So which bit of me do you want to enjoy longer Nicole? The lingering smell of sausages? The zombie like appearance? The bit where I sweat oil even when I’m standing still? This woman clearly feels as though she is some kind of caped crusader, fighting the good fight to help save people around the world from their sweaty, sausagey selves. What she fails to take into account in any way is the incredibly complex reasons why people get fat, and stay fat. She is right in some ways – obesity is a very serious problem – but being ranted at by a vacuous bint on YouTube is not going to stop anyone from feeling bad about themselves. Shaming people doesn’t make them want to change, it makes them feel even sadder, more worthless, less empowered and consequently less able to address their problems.

Anyone who has worked with young people knows the myriad of difficulties involved in tackling bullying in schools on a daily basis. It is insidious and all prevailing, and people like this – privileged teenagers in adult bodies – simply contribute to a society that is entirely lacking in love and compassion. Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day 2015. By talking about fat people in these terms Arbour dehumanises us, allowing her to mock and shame us with no guilt or conscience. Unfortunately for Arbour the tide is beginning to turn and the body positivity movement that she so readily mocks has gained huge support around the world in recent years (as discussed here). Despite the video having 2 million views in less than a week, she is now facing a backlash and has reportedly been fired from a role as choreographer on a forthcoming body positivity video.

If you’re really serious about helping people live a healthier, more fulfilling, and longer life try having a bit of compassion and understanding instead of resorting to cliches, stereotypes and downright nastiness poorly disguised as humour.

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29 thoughts on “Fat shaming: Bullying for Grown Ups

  1. WOW I don’t know who this youtuber is as I never heard of her but damn, those are some harsh words. Fat shaming (and skinny shaming) are just wrong. We’re all different and no one can sit there and judge your health without knowing anything about you/ your lifestyle/health condition etc
    I mean why even care, live and let live, jeez.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t know what’s sadder, this stupid excuse for a woman and her ridiculously simplistic fat-shaming or the fact that it’s made me see so many hundreds comments underneath news stories about it from people supporting her, saying ‘truth hurts’ and that it’s not okay for fat people to be a burden on the health system so they should just stop making excuses.
    The whole ‘oh just eat less and move more’ thing makes me so, so mad (and this is from a girl who’s been overweight, underweight, eating-disorder-diagnosed, and – for the past few years thankfully – a perfectly healthy weight) because ANYONE with a BRAIN and an ounce of compassion can instantly see it’s not that simple. People over-eat/under-exercise for so many reasons, from illness through to depression, grief, mental health issues etc – frankly, I find it baffling that people don’t recognise overeating/comfort-eating as the same kind of eating disorder as people who starve/purge themselves. It all stems from the mind. And breaking habits is REALLY BLOODY HARD and needs support not shame.
    And that’s not even including all the plus-size people who are happy with their weight and simply don’t need anyone else’s judgement about their ‘health’ issues, their debt to society etc. It’s no one’s business but theirs, but these videos make it seem okay for everyone to go around spewing their judgements to people who don’t want them.
    Uch, anyway, rant over! Sorry!
    Thank you for writing this!! For every one person that speaks out against this bint, more people will feel less depressed and bullied by her.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I watched about 30 seconds of her video and turned it off. I too have battled with my weight for as long I can remember. Yes it’s only us who can change but we will do it when we are ready. Not when some random (very slim) girl spouts off a heap of rubbish and insults about all fat people. Never judge a book by it’s cover. Fab fab post!

    Chelsea | http://www.lifeinthenorth.com

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  4. Social media affords many people views on things. That’s their right, but it can become a bit of a battleground (Ref. Louise Mensch on Twitter). Don’t get too drawn in, is my perception. Correct about the bullying, which social media again reinforces. But you’re not “a fatty” anyway, Jo. Indeed, you and yours are positively health conscious and aspire to Arnie like crafting of the physical form. And even if you were, I’d still adore you because you’re smart and that’s where beauty is to those in the know xx

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  5. I can’t believe she did a comedy sketch that was so low, but it makes me sad that she is getting any publicity for it too. I sincerely hope it doesn’t launch a career for her. Shaming is awful for anything and like you said weight gain is a really complex thing!!

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  6. It is sad and sickening when ADULTS act this way but unfortunately being an adult does not mean one is mature! I have known healthy fat people and healthy skinny people. I have known unhealthy fat and unhealthy skinny people. The terms skinny and fat are derogatory enough on their own. My ex husband is a very large man and very unhealthy, while I had a very large friend who passed away – not due to her weight whatsoever would could out work me every day! TONS of energy she had! Such a shame on our society. YES if your weight is causing you health issues then try harder to lose weight, but my FIT Endocrinologist – a diabetic doctor, (I am type 1 diabetic) ended up getting TYPE 2 Diabetes – you know the kind only “fat” people are supposed to get. DNA is DNA ya know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, I think some people like to put others into boxes because it is easier for them than opening their mind to see that people are complex and nuanced. Thanks so much for your interesting comment. 🙂

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  7. Any kind of body shaming is so distasteful. I think it speaks volumes to the person’s insecurity who is saying those things. This is why I believe in raising children to be compassionate and caring so that we see more people who are understanding of the diversity in this world

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  8. I don’t know I’m just staying out of this debate. It’s so old now and over played. Nothing is happening, nor will it for some time now. People will forget about it in a wk or two and be over it and on to the next great debate of who to hate (Trump)….just sayin’.

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  9. Thankfully, I missed her video and won’t be seeing any of it. I’m so tired of people who think it’s okay to cross the line on mean weight jokes… It stinks even more that she was hired (later fired) to do an anti-bullying, body positive job… so ironic!

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