The Internet is not pleased with Nicole Arbour. The Canadian actress and YouTube vlogger uploaded a video titled “Dear Fat People” on Sept. 3, where she attempted to discuss rampant obesity in North America through satire. Countless tweets, articles and Facebook rants later, Arbour has disabled comments on the video and refuses to apologize for what many viewers saw as bullying rather than comedy.
“Fat shaming,” Arbour said in “Dear Fat People.” “Who came up with that? That’s (freaking) brilliant. Yes, shame people who have bad habits until they (freaking) stop: Fat shaming.” Afterwards, she proceeded to literally high-five herself for the genius observation.
If Arbour had simply typed “fat shaming effects” into Google, she would have been confronted by an overwhelming amount of articles and research pointing to the many negative effects of weight discrimination.
“It’s been proven that fat shaming actually does nothing to encourage people to lose weight,” DePaul junior Katie Schneider said. “In fact, it often has the opposite affect, resulting in weight gain and depression.”
According to multiple studies, Schneider is right. One example is a 2014 study conducted by University College London. Researchers studied 2,944 adults and found that over a four-year period, those who reported weight discrimination gained an average .95 kg (2.1 lbs.). Participants who did not report weight discrimination lost an average .71 kg (1.6 lbs.) during the same time period.
Even so, increasing obesity rates should not be ignored. According to The State of Obesity, an annual report on the obesity epidemic in America, about 68.5 percent of American adults are overweight. About 34.9 percent of those people are obese. And while a lazy, unhealthy lifestyle is the easiest to blame, many other factors contribute to rising obesity rates. The State of Obesity found that blacks and Latinos are more often obese than whites. Additionally, poorer and less educated Americans have higher rates of obesity.
Arbour is clearly well aware that obesity is a major health epidemic, but poking fun at those who struggle with their weight is not the correct way to fix the problem. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is by no means offensive, but insulting obese people has been proven to do more harm than good.
“Instead of encouraging people to be comfortable continuing the bad habits that are destroying their bodies over time, we need to be encouraging people to live longer and healthier,” Rock Valley College student Dezz Turner said.
A prime example of someone combating the obesity epidemic in a positive way is First Lady Michelle Obama. She launched “Let’s Move!” in February 2010 to encourage children to live healthy lifestyles from a young age. The movement has achieved tremendous results, including America’s largest food manufacturers pledging to cut 1.5 trillion calories from their food by 2015 and Wal-Mart lowering the cost of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products by $1 billion.
The negative approach to addressing obesity has proven not so successful. Not only has Arbour’s video recieved major criticism, but she was fired from a choreographer position for an upcoming movie after director Pat Mills saw the YouTube clip.
“‘Dear Fat People’ is an unfunny and cruel fat-shaming video that guises itself about being about ‘health,'” Mills said in a statement to Zap2it. “It’s fat-phobic and awful. It went on for over six minutes. I felt like I had been punched in the gut.”
Arbour does not agree with Mills’ assesment of her video and has not acknowledged that there is a reason viewers may be offended. “I find children starving in a country with more than enough food offensive,” she said. “I find women’s bodies being mutilated for religious purposes, that is offensive to me. But words and satire I don’t find offensive.”
At the end of the “Dear Fat People,” Arbour clarified that she did not mean to be cruel. “The truth is I will actually love you no matter what,” she said. “But I really, 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.”
Unfortunately for Arbour, that so-called bomb blasted her instead.