Southern reacts: “Dear Fat People” video


Melissa Giugno – Special to Southern News

When Christie Leigh Bevis saw comedian Nicole Arbour’s video titled “Dear Fat People” on YouTube, she said it was not funny but rude; that Arbour offended a lot of people.

“There are probably two different categories of people: people that saw it and thought it was funny. Then another group of people who get body shamed, and people who advocate for them; they are going to find it really upsetting,” said Bevis.

According to Arbour’s YouTube, the video has accumulated over six million views since being posted in early September. Arbour made statements such as fat shaming not being real and that she intended on shaming people out of their behavior.

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Bevis said if Arbour’s intention was to persuade her audience to lead a healthier life, this was not the way to encourage them.

“I really do not think that shaming works for the general population,” said Bevis. “There might be people that watch it and force themselves not to eat and to go on crazy diets; I think that is not going to help anybody.”

Dr. Jeff VanLone agreed with Bevis, saying shaming someone out of any behavior cannot lead to positive results.

“Shaming is not typically the best intervention for helping the other person,” said VanLone, “I have never witnessed someone successfully shaming someone out of a bad behavior, or if they had, ended up creating more problems somewhere else.”

Dr. VanLone, director of counseling services, added when people shame each other for their appearance, it shows a lack of compassion.

“My own personal belief is when people make judgmental comments about each other, especially about appearance, it displays such a lack of empathy,” said VanLone. “How do we know what is going on in this other person’s life?”

According to a study conducted in 2011 by the psychology department at Yale University, 73 overweight women were exposed to stigmatizing videos about weight. Those subjects ate three times as many calories when compared to those who watched neutral videos. After the study was conducted, it was suggested that more effort should be taken by the media to reduce weight stigmatization. Campaigns to raise awareness about weight bias in the media would also prove to be helpful.

Yi-Chun Tricia Lin, Ph.D., director of the women’s studies program, said while body discrimination affects all genders, women face these issues differently.

“In a patriarchal society, in a society where women’s bodies are treated as if it is a women’s whole part, it is not surprising that we have this body image issue,” said Tricia Lin. “No wonder body image occupies a big part of the women studies analysis. It is not because women want to be like that, the way we think can sometimes reflect the projection of a society onto us.”

Tricia Lin said in order to help one another with self-image issues, students must educate each other, because this issue is not going to go away any time soon.

“Educate one another, students saying to each other, ‘what can we do to educate the entire campus?’ Because this issue is not going away and you could be sure that it is going to be here when your children are going to college. So how can you make them feel that they are really worthy, contributing, and beautiful human beings, rather than just looking at parts of the body?”

 

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