A couple of hours ago, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed as you do when you’re procrastinating. And I ran into a Buzzfeed article, about a YouTube video that’s been making the rounds. A few days ago, comedian Nicole Arbour posted a video called “Dear Fat People”, where she attempts to make fat people realize that their habits are making them sick and will only lead them into a premature death. She drops that “truth bomb” in the hopes that people will be motivated to change their lives. The video was censored and her account was removed, only to be reinstated later, presumably because she hadn’t actually broken any rules. Arbour stands firmly behind the fact that the video was meant to be satirical and that the purpose behind it was concern for those viewing it.
I don’t think her video should’ve been censored. She has a right to her opinion and her particular brand of comedy, which people seem to appreciate. If we start censoring things left and right just because they leave a bad taste in the mouth, we run the risk of censorship becoming an acceptable method of coping.
Let’s be honest, it’s not like we’re that far from it to be setting even more precedents. Everyone views comedy differently and there is a chunk of the population who think what she said was hilarious, accurate, and inspiring.
I’ve been fat my entire life. I’m not entirely sure when or how, but somewhere along the way comfort food became an actual comfort for me. I remember one time, I must have been 8 or 9, a nurse told me that if I didn’t lose weight social services could take me away from my mom. Throughout the years people have told me how beautiful I’d be if I just lost some weight, how free I’d feel without all that fat anchoring me to the ground, how sick I’d be if I kept it up. All this to say, I’m not a stranger to Nicole Arbour’s kind of concern.
The thing is though, that concern only serves to remind you of everything you feel is wrong with you. There isn’t a fat person who hasn’t felt the shame of feeling trapped inside a body everyone goes out of their way to tell you is disproportionate. I’ve felt self conscious about my thighs in shorts and my stomach stretching my shirts for as long as I can remember. I’ve learned the tips and the tricks to camouflage, to hide, to make people think that there is less of you than there actually is. In the end though, you start to believe there is less of you, less to love, less to value.
It has taken me years to see beauty when I look in the mirror. To see someone who might be desirable. To look, really look, at myself and not feel ashamed at the stretch marks, at my arms that are bigger than some girls thighs. To stop hiding long enough to see how great my ass looks in a well fitted pair of jeans. How kickass I can look in knee high boots, draped in jewelry and sporting a crop top. To realize that I can be flexible and strong and fabulously fierce. I guess what I’m trying to say is…
Fuck You, Nicole Arbour.
Fuck you for painting over your prejudice and your cruelty with shades of health and concern. There are a whole bunch of reasons to lose weight, but none of them include being disgusting. It’s not that people can’t handle how much “truth” there is in your jokes, it’s that people can’t handle the amount of cruelty a person who claims to be smart is unaware of.
Depression and self loathing don’t understand comedy.
Concern never feels like shame, it never feels like making you want to crawl out of your skin. Concern feels like love and understanding. There were so many ways of starting a conversation, so many beautiful and thoughtful ways. So many ways to use your influence to truly make a change. The way Grace Helbig and Whitney Way Thore chose to do. Instead you decided to put down those you sought to help and made jokes at their expense making yourself into the victim.
I’m not sure how many people will read this or how many people will care. However, if you’re reading know this. In the end, you’re the only person who can determine your value. I hope you decide you’re worth a thousand times your weight in gold. Worth more than numbers on a scale. Being fat should not keep you from believing in and loving yourself. It shouldn’t keep you from laughing at the things you do wrong, from feeling beautiful and attractive. I promise you can do anything. I also promise it will be hard, but that’s because everything in life is. You should wear what you want and say what you feel and act in the way that makes you the happiest.
Stay beautiful, readers. Until next time.