A few days ago, YouTube comedian Nicole Arbour released a video on her channel titled “Dear Fat People.” The video, which the comedian claims is satirical, functions like a mean-spirited hopeful call-to-action for overweight people. YouTube temporarily suspended Arbour’s channel in response to the uproar caused by her video, but though the channel has since been restored, turbulent response to the video continue to ripple through the internet.
Arbour’s video, shot in a series of cuts and quickly-changing frames, does seek to be funny. The comedian’s rant-style humor, similar to Jenna Marbles, does have a place on YouTube, where everybody loves to say the things they think everyone thinks (but don’t want to say). But what place does Arbour’s actual video have on YouTube, or in the world in general? Though she claims that “fat shaming isn’t a thing—fat people made that up,” it’s a fair fact that overweight people, now a record-breaking 75% of men and 67% of women over the age of 25, are discriminated against for their appearance. And, if fat shaming didn’t exist, her video wouldn’t have the 20 million views it does.
“Oh, the hashtags!” Arbour cries. “You really think that if enough of you hashtag something bad for you, it makes it okay?” Well, no. Arbour’s would-be satire relies on old, tired, lazy, and mean jokes at the expense of obese people, and she misunderstands the function of the so-called “body positivity” movement. The movement does not seek to proclaim that being overweight is better than being thin, or that overweight people deserve special treatment—the movement simply asks that overweight people be allowed to live their lives in their own bodies, unmolested by others for their appearance.
Though it’s true that eating right and exercising regularly are necessary components of living a happy, healthy life, making fun of overweight people in no way helps them. Punishment is almost never a more productive solution than positive reinforcement. As plus-size model and fearless feminist Tess Holiday tweeted in response to Arbour’s video, “fat shaming doesn’t save lives, it kills them.”
It’s possible Arbour’s video would have been better received if the jokes were actually fresh, and if they authentically encouraged people to take better care of themselves. Instead, the video is just a tired version of the attitudes already existent in our culture. The video really offers nothing in the way of productive discourse, which is supposed to be the general intent of satire. Additionally, Refinery29 writes that Arbour feels she was only censored by YouTube because her appearance doesn’t fit the idea of what a typical comedian looks like. Not untrue, as female comedians are treated differently than male comedians, though the irony in Arbour’s dismay at discrimination based on her appearance abounds.
If YouTube temporarily banned Arbour’s channel, it means the site is listening to its consumers and their possibly changing attitudes. Please remember to be kind to everyone in your life, regardless of circumstance.