(FAO Fat Shamers; CC Nicole Arbour, Katie Hopkins and Karl Lagerfeld)
I HAD a dream (a less revolutionary dream than the famous one) where a tribe of women rotund in the hip, voluptuous in the waist and buxom in the breasts, united in magical curvaceous unison to invite Nicole ‘Fat Shamer’ Arbour to 'kiss their fat ass’ – in a similar fashion to Tyra Banks following the brutal media bullying of her weight gain in 2006.
The idea that fat-shaming will force people to lose weight is naive
It’d be an appropriate response to Arbour’s now worldwide viral Dear Fat People video.
In the Youtube clip that has now been watched more than 5 million times, comedian Arbour launched into a spectacularly unforgiving rant about obesity and declared 'fat shaming' - the open discrimination of overweight people - as 'not a thing'. While Arbour distinguishes between those with a little "cushion for the pushin", people with "specific medical problems" and the "35% of Americans that are obese," the video touched a very sensitive nerve and was even temporarily blocked by Youtube.
Not that Arbour cares much.
As she says in the video: "What you gonna do fat people? Chase me? It's going to be like fuckin' Frankenstein..."
Watch the video here, she pulls no punches.
Like many comedians, Arbour believes her comedy is satire and uses her zany humour to dissect our current social issues (although, I can't see much of that in Keith Lemon's Celebrity Juice).
'Satire' is a comedian's safeword when they come under-fire for their more controversial jokes - on this occasion Arbour hasn't received the benefit of the doubt.
While jokes on race, sexuality etc are obvious no-gos in our politically correct times, America's crippling weight issue tends to be fair game for a comedian. Should Arbour have received a universal-wide middle finger for her comical take on a genuine issue that's plaguing first world society? Are we over-sensitive? Has the P.C. brigade gotten its knickers in a twist once again? Weren't we supposed to laugh?
Yet those who are overweight will continually find themselves at the butt of the joke - they're an easy target. Fat jokes are as commonplace in our playgrounds as 'Your Mum' jokes. And 'fat shaming' is an extension of bullying, it's what propels the likes of Katie Hopkins to announce she wouldn't 'hire someone who is overweight', or Karl Lagerfeld to claim singer Adele is 'a little too big'. It's belitting and dehumanising.
Arbour now joins the shouty ranks of Hopkins and Jeremy Kyle, overzealous characters who consider their unpopular opinions as much-needed truths for the greater good of the individual; whether they asked for advice or not. Who are they fooling? We'd be naive to think these TV personalities are being provocative for any other reason than exposure. Arbour now has over 200,000 subscribers. She'll soon direct her faux concern elsewhere.
The idea that fat-shaming, or as Arbour puts it, "shame people who have bad habits until they fuckin' stop", will force people into losing weight is naive. The NHS came under-fire in 2013 when it suggested its doctors should be 'non blaming' and 'respectful' in order to 'minimise harm' when dealing with obese patients. Others want doctors to adopt a hard-hitting approach, tell it like it is and call them 'fat'. But the assumption that obese people need to be called obese to realise they are obese is incredibly patronising - chances are, they already know.
It's very easy to stand on a pulpit, get all sanctimonious and start preaching 'clean-eating' to the overweight and obese. I've been to Florida, where the obesity levels are mind-blowing. There were hundreds of domestic tourists wheelchair-bound due to their weight. I remember the slow waddles, heavy-breathing, the wild display of gluttony at fast-food joints. It was easy for me, with my small build and fast-acting metabolism to judge from my high horse - even while sipping on my super-sized, triple-pint of coca-cola.
This is not about mollycoddling or skimming over the truth but it is about compassion. Yes, tell your kids to pick up a football and play outside once in a while, maybe admit to your husband that his pants did not shrink in the wash. Cold, hard, truths could be just as effective made a little warmer and a little softer. Negative reinforcement doesn't always work.
Thankfully, today fat shamers don't get away with body shaming, the backlash following the Dear Fat People video proved it. Neither do thin-shamers, post-pregnancy body shamers et al. We're in the middle of a body-positive movement and when it comes to enforcing 'body inclusivity', campaigners have adopted guerilla tactics; from defacing 'Beach Body Ready' posters to becoming hash-tag warriors on social networks using the likes of #curves and #loveyourbody.
A healthy body should always be the ideal, but so should a healthy state of mind and healthy sense of self. This is difficult to achieve if you're being body shamed. Fact is, fat shaming is as real as the fat epidemic.
Fat shame, and ultimately, it's shame on you.
Follow LOreal_B on Twitter