In a video titled “Dear Fat People” that comedian Nicole Arbour posted to YouTube September 3, Arbour mocked, belittled, and harangued overweight people for six minutes, claiming that she was simply saying “what we’ve all wanted to say to fat people.”
Many viewers were not happy about the video, and dozens of YouTubers created vlogs and videos about the consequences of fat-shaming, calling Arbour out on her content.
For Arbour’s part, she referred to her diatribe as a “stand-up routine” in a Facebook video posted later on September 4. In that same video, Arbour stated that she refused to watch any of these response videos, wholly dismissing them and asking people why they were taking her comedy “so seriously.”
But in their own videos, YouTubers told her why they were taking it seriously.
Users Whitney Way Thore (of TLC’s My Big Fat Fabulous Life), notable vlogger Boogie2988, and vlogger/E! talk show host Grace Helbig, among others, spoke out against Arbour’s original video–which was unavailable briefly on YouTube when her account was deactivated for a few days–by delineating the ways in which her jokes were both factually incorrect and legitimately harmful.
Overall, users agreed that Arbour’s routine erred more on the side of cruelty and less on the side of comedy.
Here, a roundup of Arbour’s
jokes statements, plus what YouTubers had to say in response:
1. “Fat-shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up.” —Arbour
In nearly every single response video, folks reminded Arbour that fat-shaming is real–and it’s dangerous.
“Fat-shaming is a thing. It’s a really big thing, no pun intended,” Thore said in her response video. “It is the really nasty spawn of a larger parent problem called body-shaming.”
(For the record, according to Walden Behavioral Care‘s website, body-shaming is “criticizing yourself or others because of some aspect of physical appearance.”)
YouTuber Kendall Rae opened up about how fat-shaming and body negativity affected her directly. She even revealed to the audience that she had struggled with an eating disorder for many years and that body-shaming and bullying played a big part in her battle.
Rae spoke directly to Arbour, calling her a bully. “You are using your voice for negativity instead of the amazing amount of positivity you can start.”
“I don’t think [Nicole Arbour], or many people, understand that fat-shaming can have extreme consequences,” said user LearningToBeFearless–aka Alexandra–who is a plus-sized beauty vlogger and makeup guru. “Some people are not in a good state of mind that [would allow them to] handle a video like that going out there and going viral.”
2. “Shame people who have bad habits until they [expletive] stop: fat-shaming. If we offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m OK with that.” —Arbour
Despite at first claiming that “fat-shaming is not a thing” and that “fat people made [fat-shaming] up,” Arbour went on to say that fat-shaming is actually an effective way to get people to lose weight.
But, as respondents reminded her, that’s not how it works.
“Fat-shaming does exactly what you would expect. It’s in the title,” said Boogie2988, aka Francis. “It makes someone feel ashamed. It makes them feel bad about themselves. It makes them feel disgusted about themselves. It makes them hate themselves.”
“For someone to do the incredible amount of mental and physical changes that are required to lose a tremendous amount of weight,” Francis continued, “They have to at least give a [expletive] about themselves.”
Moreover, the psychological impacts of fat-shaming may lead people to engage in the very behavior that Arbour is trying to condemn: poor eating habits.
“Making someone feel bad about their bad habits actually increases stress, and then causes people to relieve that stress, sometimes by eating foods,” said YouTuber SupDaily06, aka Chris.
And he’s right. According to a study out of the University College London, “stressed emotional eaters [eat] more sweet high-fat foods and a more energy-dense meal than unstressed and nonemotional eaters.” If Arbour’s concern for people’s health–which she claimed was one of the motivations for making the video–were real, she wouldn’t be bullying people into feeling horrible, thus making them susceptible to eating more unhealthy foods.
User Loey Lane, a plus-sized fashion and beauty blogger, insinuated that Arbour’s insistence that she was looking out for overweight people’s health was presumptuous–and probably not true.
“I’m really tired of these sort of videos that are supposed to be so concerned about fat people’s health, and whatnot,” Lane said. “It’s no one else’s business.”
“Your health is not anyone else’s business,” Lane continued. “And it’s that simple.”
Moreover, the concept that Arbour–or anyone else–is able to discern someone’s health and wellness based on their physical appearance is not an argument that other users thought held water.
“You can’t see a person’s health from looking at them,” Thore said in her video. “The next time you see a fat person, you don’t know whether that person has a medical condition which caused them to gain weight,” she said. “You don’t know if their mother just died. You don’t know if they’re depressed or suicidal. Or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don’t know.”
3. “Oh my god, the hashtags. #BodyPositive. If you want to be positive to your body, work out and eat well. That’s being positive to your body. You really think if enough of you hashtag something bad for you, it makes it OK?” —Arbour
Arbour also dismissed the body positive movement, saying that giving a movement a hashtag doesn’t make it one you should get behind.
Of course, this argument revolves around the belief that the body positivity movement is only for those who are overweight.
“I’m really sick of the body positive movement being made out to only be for overweight people,” Lane said in her response, encourage people later in her video to continue to be positive about their appearances, regardless of their size and in spite of this video.
Alexandra/LearningToBeFearless had a similar thought to share. “Body positivity just changed everything for me,” she told her viewers. “It took me a long time to love myself. And I’m finally in a good place now.”
The takeaway from many of the response videos was a message of optimism. They encouraged people to not take Arbour’s words to heart and to not give up on trying to work toward self-acceptance.
“As attacked or as broken as some of you may feel right now, you still deserve to feel good about yourself,” Lane said in her video. “You are allowed to feel beautiful. You are allowed to love yourself.”
“We’re all just trying to get by,” Helbig said in her response. “We’re all doin’ life as best we can as best we can, and that’s all you can do, is try to be the best version of yourself.”
“This is what I want to say to fat people: You are loved,” Thore said to her viewers. “You are worthy. You are capable of so much more than you think.”