A peek into the world of fat shaming

“Fat shaming is not a thing; fat people made that up.” 

“You are too fat, and you should stop eating.”

Fat jokes. Fat remarks. Fat shaming.

Most of us have probably heard about or have seen the video by now. It’s been two months since Nicole Arbour’s “Dear Fat People” video first surfaced on the Internet. The video, with more than seven million views, has gained attention, but not all of it is positive.

Nicole Arbour's fat shaming video. Screen capture from YouTube
Nicole Arbour’s fat shaming video. Screenshot from YouTube

In Arbour’s video, she used humor to address the issue of obesity. Despite Arbour’s comical remarks, she also said in her video, “I will actually love you no matter what […] But I really, really hope this bomb of truth […] makes you want to be healthier so that we can enjoy you as human beings longer on this planet.”

Many still believe that what Arbour said her video was inappropriate and that she went too far in discriminating and singling out a certain group of people. 

Although originally created to be satirical, many find Arbour’s video less than humorous. Sophomore Amy Ong said, “I do not think she’s right. She has her own right to do this, it’s her right and she can criticize people if she wants to, but I don’t believe her own opinions were correct.”

She’s not alone. There are many critics online that agree with Arbour’s views. Most of these responses were posted through social media, mainly YouTube and Twitter, which interestingly enough, are two social media platforms Arbour uses regularly.

Does fat shaming exist?

Based off of many of the comments on Arbour’s video, the answer is yes. Fat shaming does exist, but not everyone agrees with it. One anonymous commenter left this comment under her video. “In this day and age, it’s shocking to find that something like fat shaming still exists. It’s rather sickening to think that some people find this okay. […] Being fat isn’t a sin. And don’t bring me the whole ‘gluttony is a sin’ because that doesn’t apply. The definition of gluttony is the act or habit of eating or drinking too much, not being fat. Just because a person is fat does not mean a person is less of a person. It just means they are bigger. Some people don’t mind being fat and other people have health problems. Then there are people who want to lose weight. That is fine, but it is never okay to hate someone because they are fat.” 

Tweets about Arbour's video went crazy (Photo courtesy of)
People expressed their opinions through social media: Arbour’s video blew up Twitter (Photo courtesy of Twitter, Tweet written by @faie_fb)

Despite the fact that many have come down on Arbour for her views on obesity, she still has many who support her, like YouTuber skagg 3. “We can’t joke about obesity, but presumably we can joke about AIDS, cancer, drug addiction, alcoholism – the list of things we joke about daily is endless.”

SAS students were opposed to Arbour’s video. Freshman Maria Veloso said, “I think it does exist, I haven’t seen the video, but I’ve heard of it, so obviously fat shaming is there, and I dislike it. I think everyone dislikes it.”

Sophomore Amy Ong also agreed that fat shaming is present today, saying, “Well, fat shaming does exist, as everyone can see, she fat shamed them herself in her video and, I mean, it’s the same thing as any other shaming–she was shaming a certain type of people for a certain trait about them, so that is shaming.”

Despite what Arbour said in her video, most people still agree that fat shaming is still “a thing.”

Is there such as thing as being “big boned”?

Dove campaign for real beauty.
Dove campaign for real beauty.

One of the controversies sparked by Arbour’s video was that she claimed that “being big boned is not a thing.” Many people online, like vegan health guru Freelee the Banana Girl, agree – they say that “big boned is not a thing” and, rather, it is an excuse.

Claudette Lajam M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases and spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons argues otherwise: “In a word, yes, there really is such a thing as big boned – but it’s not a medical term, and it’s not always used correctly.” There are people with bigger bones, though it doesn’t make much difference, as it’s the muscle and fat above one’s bone that makes them appear “bigger boned.”

What big boned means and what people perceive being big boned means may not be the same thing, however. Think Eric Cartman on South Park saying, “I’m not fat, I’m just big boned!” People with larger bones are slightly larger for their heights, yes, but it’s the soft tissue on top and around those bones – fat and muscle – that make some look more “big boned” than others.

You can’t see health

There are unhealthy obese people. But there are unhealthy skinny people too. There are unhealthy people of all different shapes and sizes: you can’t see health.

Amy mentioned, “She [Arbour] did exclude medical reasons for people to be obese, but the way she shamed the fat people and obesity was inappropriate, was insulting and was criticizing them in a way that she didn’t need to.”

Whitney Way Thore, who appears in the TLC show “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” posted a reaction video in response to Arbour’s original video, discussing the effects of body-shaming. Ms. Thore, who suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), says in the video, “You cannot tell a person’s health, physical or otherwise, from looking at them.”

As of the last few years, many brands and society in general have been pushing towards real beauty, including Dove’s #speakbeauty campaign and American Eagle’s real campaign (where they leave their models unphotoshopped/retouched).

A model’s perspective

Model Gigi Hadid, who’s well known for representing brands like GUESS and Victoria’s Secret, has been praised by fans for her athletic figure and natural beauty. Though it wasn’t easy to rise to supermodel status, quite recently, Ms. Hadid revealed that she wasn’t taken seriously by agencies and constantly rejected due to her “fuller frame.”

“When I first went to visit different agencies in New York, a lot of them were like, ‘You have to lose a lot of weight,’” she told MailOnline earlier this year. “I ate like a man – more than the man I eat like now, like a bigger man – and it was crazy but at the time I didn’t care what my body looked like, I just wanted to be the best volleyball player I could be so it didn’t really matter to me. My thighs were huge, they were like rock!”

It was something she didn’t take lightly, as Ms. Hadid revealed, “I would cry at night and my mom would be like, ‘We’re going to find the right people.’” The experience was traumatizing for the young model, who now says, “I just want to be a healthy role model and I haven’t swayed from that at all.”

It’s just fat

At the end of the day, it’s fat. We all have it, and we always will. So why should we stress so much about it. As sophomore Cat Carlisle puts it, “If you’re fine and healthy, and you’re just a little ‘bigger boned,’ I don’t see what the issue is.”

Author: Kristi Yang

Kristi Yang is a senior in her seventh year at SAS and is a third-year reporter for The Eye. She was born in New York but raised in New Jersey, Beijing, and Singapore—where she currently resides. Despite having lived in Asia for the past nine years, and in Singapore for the past seven, she still considers New Jersey to be home. You can find her running late to class (from Starbucks), leading painless workouts at House of Pain, or loitering around the media lab in the wee hours of the night (just ask campus security). She can be contacted at yang43603@sas.edu.sg.

2 thoughts

  1. Great post. I admit I haven’t seen the video but I am against fat shaming. Also I get so upset when people just assume fat=unhealthy. You cannot see health!


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