Nicole Arbour’s arbitrary video ‘Dear Fat People’ has hit the news after going viral this week. If you haven’t seen it then I’d suggest that you don’t even bother. Utter tripe spawns from her mouth as she claims that “fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up” – this is all, of course, under the guise of “free speech” and “artistic expression”. Here’s an idea: if you’re trying to ‘prove’ that fat shaming doesn’t exist, then don’t make a video about it whilst fat shaming people! Do you want to know how I know that fat shaming does, undoubtedly, exist?
Because I’m a fat person and I’ve been shamed because of it.
I’d say that’s pretty good “proof”.
Here’s the thing: until you’ve lived a day in the life of a fat person, you do not get to decide what is and isn’t categorised as shaming. Until you’ve had food thrown at you from a moving car, you do not get to decide what is categorised as shaming. Until you’ve been led on by a lover and then told that you’re too fat to love, you do not get to decide what is categorised as shaming. Until you’ve been shunned by your family members for being fat, you do not get to decide what is shaming. Until you’ve been too embarrassed to make eye contact with someone, you do not get to decide what is shaming. Until you have lost a considerable amount of weight and you still get called fat, you do not get to decide what is shaming. Until you have achieved something and it gets side-lined because of your size, you do not get to decide what is shaming. Until you have been told to kill yourself, all because of the size of the fucking body that you’ve been given, you do not get to decide what is shaming. Until you have felt ignored, belittled, demeaned, worthless, unloved and despicable you do not get to decide what is shaming, okay?
Experiences of fat shame extend all the way from childhood, right up to adulthood for fat people. Arbour was quick to jump and issue an apology to the children who had seen her video and didn’t realise that she was a ‘comedian’, claiming that the last thing she wanted to do was upset kids. But guess what? Every single fat person that you have bullied and shamed in your video was a vulnerable, impressionable kid once too. All you’re doing is endorsing bullying and body shaming to wider society in an already image obsessed culture.
The popular bandwagon that fat shamers jump on is that their affiliation with bullying is actually concern for the health of the aforementioned fat people. I’ll say this once and once only – health and body size are of no concern to you, if that body does not belong to you! Simple? Apparently not. Fat people do not want to hear your comments about their big, fat, glorious bodies. But if fat people show a resistance to fat shaming talk, they are accused of ignorance, or ‘not wanting to face up to their problems’. The simple fact is, we’ve heard it all. Fuck me, the misogynistic culture in which we live focuses so highly on the female aesthetic that it is hard not to be anything but body shamed: whatever your size or shape, there is always going to be someone who has something to say about it. I’m not disregarding free speech, but there is a point where manifests into complete bullshit – worse than this though, is when it becomes dangerous.
If, like me, you are body and fat positive, then you’ll more than likely have developed thick skin and are able to ignore the comments made in this ridiculous video. But there are people out there who have suffered at the hands of bullies and fat shamers for all their lives – and negative reflections endorsed by wider society upon your appearance can become detrimental to your mental health. Fat shaming does exist, as Whitney Way Thorne rightly states, fat shaming “is the really nasty spawn of a larger parent problem called body-shaming”. By stating that fat-shaming doesn’t exist, Arbour and those who support her views, are eliminating the experiences and the right that fat people have to express a response to these experiences. And while fat-shaming does indeed exist, we need to assert that we exist too – and if you dispute this, then it is you who should be ashamed.