Friday, September 4, 2015

‘Dear Fat People’ video results in emotional YouTube exchange over weight-shaming

Everyone can agree that being overweight is no laughing matter — but where society’s views go from there, apparently, is a matter of opinion.

A YouTube battle began Thursday (Aug. 3) between Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour and vlogger Meghan Tonjes, both posting videos to their significant number of followers. Arbour hoped to use comedy to convince fat people to lose weight; Tonjes argued that shaming people into weight loss is cruel and ineffective. Soon, insults were being exchanged and tears were flowing.

“Dear fat people …” begins Arbour in her post. “Argh! Some people are already mad at this video!”

Admitting that she’s trolling, Arbour falls back on humor as justification for the outrage she clearly expects: “What are you gonna do, fat people? Are you gonna chase me?”

“Fat-shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up,” Arbour explains. “That’s the race card, with no race.”

In between her comments, Arbour goes off on various tangents aimed at comedic effect; the linchpin of her video, however, is a story about people she calls “The Fat Family” that inconvenienced her at the airport.

“If I offend you so much that you lose weight, I’m OK with that,” she says. “You are killing yourself.”

Among those offended was Tonjes, who took to YouTube a few hours later to post an emotional response.

‘Some of you grew up like I did; you’re going to fat camp when you’re 12,” explains Tonjes, tearfully talking about her own experience. “Or you’re cutting yourself because you think that the world would be better without you, and you’ll never be enough. I get that on a very human level.”

“I don’t know why this video — out of all the things that I have seen — is so upsetting to me,” she smiles through her tears. “I’m really upset about the Nicole Arbour video. And not necessarily the video, just the mindset that I find really upsetting, even if it’s done for like ‘satire’ or ‘comedy,’ which it just isn’t.”

“I find it really harmful,” she adds. “A lot of girls … struggle with body-image. Of all different sizes. They really don’t need to hear this s***.”

In Arbour’s video, the comedian justifies her frank comments by claiming to be concerned for those who are overweight.

“I’m talking about the 35 percent of North Americans who are obese,” Arbour quantifies. “That means you are so fat, you are affecting your own health. ‘Big-boned’ isn’t a thing.”

“They forgot to tell you that ‘Plus Size’ stands for plus heart disease, plus knee problems, plus diabetes,” Arbour says. “Plus your family and friends crying because they lost you too soon because you needed to have a Coke plus fries.”

In Tonjes’ response, she calls Arbour’s “Dear Fat People” video “lazy comedy wrapped in health-and-concern trolling, tied in a f****ing privilege bow. It’s so easy to go after fat people, because it takes a lot of time, energy and effort to view people as people, fully-formed people that you have to get to know.”

By the end of her response, however, Tonjes seems to stop the tears and actually come out of all this feeling somewhat empowered.

“YouTube is my therapy in a lot of ways,” she explains. “I get to come on here and talk about things that are in my heart.”

“I just want it to be known: If you watch that video, and you agree, and you don’t view people as complex and nuanced the way that they are please don’t follow me, please don’t comment on my stuff,” Tonjes says with her hands together in a pose of prayer. “Please go find anything else to watch. I’m not here for you.”

Arbour, however, doesn’t seem to be re-thinking her stance. In lieu of another video, the comedian tweeted a message likely aimed at Tonjes: Emojis of crying faces and baby bottles.