Weight and body image are no laughing matter

Madelyn Schorr

A few weeks ago, YouTube personality, Nicole Arbour, made a video titled ‘Dear Fat People.’ In the video Nicole made some low blows at people who she deemed to be fat. She said she wasn’t talking to people who are fat because of a medical condition, but she was talking to the 35% of Americans who are obese by “choice.” She goes on a rant detailing the times someone else’s struggles made her uncomfortable and how those people needed to stop. Nicole says she wants to be fat peoples’ ride-or-die friend who will tell them how it is and call them out when they are ‘too fat.’ 

As I watched this video I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My face fell, and I could feel my deepest insecurities and biggest fears rush to the front of my mind. As someone who has struggled with weight and their body image their whole life, this video stirred something in me, but not the way Ms. Arbour wanted it to. After I watched this video, I did not go run a mile or change my lifestyle so that I would stop offending people because of my weight. This video made me want to hide and crawl back into the darkness that consumed and controlled my life when I was younger always trying to attain something that wasn’t possible.

People struggling with body issues are not oblivious to the problems they are going through, but sometimes they remain in a cycle that is hard to break. We are constantly told we have to meet a certain set of beauty standards or else society deems us worthless. Nicole meets society’s beauty standards with her blonde hair, large bust and slim figure, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t have body image issues. 

The most upsetting part of the whole video to me was that Nicole was using comedy as a way to inflict pain and hurt onto a group of people. By attacking a group of people for something that is sometimes out of their control goes against the whole idea of comedy, which has the ability to be an amazingly powerful and positive tool. Comedy should make your audience laugh, not cry. Recently, Amy Schumer performed an insightful piece about rape culture, and Key and Peele consistently bring issues of race, masculinity and identity to light with a sense of empathy and sometimes straight-up lunacy.

What separates Arbour and other comedians I’ve mentioned is that the others never make a joke at someone else’s expense, unless they are doing a Comedy Central Roast. While Nicole has the right to say whatever she wants to say, she should have considered the consequences of her action and the painful buttons she may have pushed because of her hurtful words. By taking a very personal and sometimes emotional issue and issuing a blanket statement for everyone who is heavier than a size 4, she is perpetuating a culture that strips people of their humanity as soon as they don’t meet a set arbitrary standards.

Madelyn Schorr is a senior majoring in art and anthropology. Her column runs biweekly.