Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By: Kristina Litonjua, staff writer
The internet is quite honestly one of the greatest inventions of our time. It gives people instant access to unlimited knowledge and connects communities from all around the globe. With a tool like this you might just think that we as humans would be more understanding and sympathetic of each other and our differences, but of course, we all know that is not the case. In fact, I believe that the internet, more specifically today’s social medias, has created an irreparable disconnect amongst its users, and the recent uproar over Nicole Arbour’s video “Dear Fat People” proves that.
Early last month, Arbour released “Dear Fat People” on YouTube and has since received some well-deserved backlash. Arbour, who according to her channel is a comedian and motivational speaker, is anything but funny or inspirational in her message to the public about losing weight. Despite only being six minutes long, the video was difficult to watch as this woman jokingly said things like “Fat-shaming isn’t a thing” or “What are you going to do fat people? You are going to chase me?” without slamming my laptop closed. The amount of ignorance and pride she gives off in this video is astounding. Although, she did try to appear informed and direct her diatribe towards the “35% of Americans who are obese” and not those”with a specific health condition.” However, it was a futile attempt that does little to reconcile the rest of her mean spirited words. Watch the video for yourself and you will see what I mean.
This is where the disconnect between people comes into play. Similar to the cases of cyberbullying, the impersonal nature of the internet gives Arbour the ability to fearlessly say whatever she wants, and she has the first amendment right to. Yet, it was not what Arbour said so much as how she said it. There is no sincere concern for the actual well-being of the individuals she mocks. She claims that she wants to people to be healthier so “that we can enjoy [them] as human beings,” yet she neglects that the innocent boy she referred to as “Jabba the Son” is still a human being. For many of the six million viewers who have watched this video, it was probably not the first time that someone ridiculed their size, and for Arbour to glamorize the poor and distasteful treatment of other people and find a sense of accomplishment from it is an insult to entertainers everywhere.
Take away the ridiculous hand gestures, Star Wars references, and all the offensive punchlines, and she does make somewhat of a point. I couldn’t agree more that America may not be one of the healthiest countries in the world, which should be an area of concern. But if the purpose of this video was to reinvigorate the issue of this country’s health for discussion, it fails to do so. It instead raises unnecessary arguments about political correctness and sensitivity. All of which fall short in priority to the fact that Arbour’s rant thoroughly succeeds in undermining something that people, especially women, struggle with: body image.
Everyday women’s bodies are criticized in the media and there is an overwhelming pressure on young girls to look a certain way to feel beautiful. She is not thinking of the teens who are battling eating disorders or the impressionable little girls who accidentally stumble upon this video that teaches them it is not acceptable to be yourself if you are different from societal norms. This impact is more significant on a young woman’s mind because it is coming from another woman. “Dear Fat People” hurts the empowerment of women without even the mentioning of feminism or equality. The surges of body positive movements on social media have slowly begun to help women, as well as men, value themselves as more than their looks. But the noble effort seems undone when a woman like Nicole Arbour openly criticizes other individuals for their bodies with no regard for their emotions or personal stories, essentially what makes a human, human.
Differences in appearance should not separate us as a civilization as it has done so in the past. Our world would be a much happier place if we actually took the time to understand our neighbors and appreciate their character, a skill that cannot be learned with all the information on the Internet. We only have one life. So however each of us decides to live it, it should not be wasted on telling others how to live theirs.