Tag Archives: fat shaming

Getting the Message Across

8 Sep
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Comedienne Nicole Arbour

When I began this blog, it was to document the journey I’ve taken on my road to weight loss. It has been up and down the entire time. It was when I realized that it would always be up and down that I knew I could speak to others about this process. I was never morbidly obese, but I did have conversations with my doctors in the past that revolved around the need to take better care of myself. It was hinted at by friends and family members that my weight had taken a turn. But it wasn’t until I decided that I needed to take better care of myself that it clicked with me.

Not once did anyone curse me out about my body. Not once did anyone make me feel like I was less than a real human being. I still dated, I still hung with friends, I still went clubbing and dropped my 200-pound butt like it was hot. Losing weight was more about ensuring a better future for myself and feeling more confident within myself than it was about pleasing others.

And that’s where I have a problem with “comedienne” Nicole Arbour‘s  viral video that fat shames people she believes aren’t making the right decisions for themselves. Nicole, who is a slender woman, devoted six minutes and eight seconds in what she claims is satire to demean, dehumanize and shame people whom she considers fat. She compared overweight and obese people to Frankenstein’s monster. She claimed that a family she’d seen at the airport received preferential treatment not because they were disabled but because they were overweight. What annoyed me most is that she says fat shaming is not a thing, at lease not to people who don’t have a medical predisposition to weight gain.

Good for her that she realizes some people are different.

Let me set some facts straight: I do not, nor will I ever condone fat shaming. Having been on this journey for so long, I understand the pitfalls that come with trying to lose weight. I know what happens when you hit a brick wall after working so hard. And I fully get that it takes much longer to learn to maintain healthy habits than it does to embark on them.

What people like Nicole fail to realize is that prejudging, shaming and dehumanizing people who are fully aware of what they look like doesn’t help them. When was the last time a negative comment from a stranger positively affected you? When was the last time being called fat, disgusting, slow, or “Jabba the Son” made you want to do laps around the park?

Telling people what you don’t like about them and hiding it under the mask of “I accept everybody” isn’t just lying, it’s hurtful. Passing it off as comedy and satire only makes the jokester look like the true asshole. Nicole says in her video that only racial minorities, people with disabilities and the LGBT community are the only ones who are discriminated against. Everyone else (I’m looking at you women, religious community, poor, etc.) has no right to complain, especially overweight people.

Overweight and obese people are judged and commented on every day. Walk down the street and you’ll hear people commenting on another person’s size, possibly within earshot, every other block. It’s one of the last ways to criticize people that is still socially acceptable. And it shouldn’t be.

People like Nicole and John Burk, who released a similar video earlier this summer, need to take a good look at their methods of encouragement. If you want a healthier society, make a better effort to work within that society instead of ridiculing people you know nothing about. If you see an overweight person struggling, talk to them instead of berating them. Give then your personal trainer’s card. Offer your own services. But don’t be the dick who continues to beat people while they’re down.

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…On Kelly Clarkson

6 Apr

Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson Perform Valentine's Gig at G-A-YDuring the summer of 2002, I was an editing intern at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the time, the paper was one of the top publications in the country, consistently lauded for its reporting, opinion pieces and photography. I was there to learn everything I could to help me on my journey toward a successful journalism career. I took time out to learn different things about how the industry works, how editors interacted with different reporters and even higher management. Most of all, I learned whether or not this was the career for me, since it was one I had been chasing for such a long time.

Also, at the time, I was knocking on 180-190 pounds. How is this relevant? It isn’t.

clarkson_idolYou see, at the time that I was learning more about the field I hoped to pursue, another young woman was being tested and mentored by people in her field. Her name is Kelly Clarkson and she is the winner of the first season of “American Idol.” Clarkson and I don’t have much in common besides being unapologetic ’80s babies our fluctuating waist lines. She’s a Southern girl who hasn’t minced words about her love of food. I’m a Midwestern girl who has vowed to leave no Goldfish behind.

Still the biggest thing we share is our passion for our professions. Clarkson is an amazing singer. Her voice packs so much power you feel it through your speakers. And it has absolutely nothing to do with her weight.

Clarkson will celebrate her daughter’s first birthday in a couple of months. Since the birth of her child, she’s gained some weight and doesn’t seem to give two shits about it.

“I yo-yo. Sometimes I’m more fit and I get into kickboxing and hardcore, and then sometimes I don’t and go, ‘Nope, I’d rather have wine!’” she said on Ellen.

Others seem to care more than she does. Both British TV personality Katie Hopkins and Fox News host Chris Wallace have jumped in to give their opinions about Clarkson’s weight. Neither has a right to judge. It’s not for us to decide when or how a person chooses to take care of their health. Clarkson is going on tour this summer, which will require a lot of stamina. It’s not her first time, so I’m sure she knows how to prepare herself mentally and physically for the task.

I am not, nor will I ever be, here for body shaming. It is not the job of others to dictate what another person should look like. The weight-loss journey is a personal one. It is a road filled with highs and lows, smiles and tears. And it is never ending. Just as we evolve in our careers, we evolve on our journeys. One day you’ll be happiest at your thinnest, the next you stop beating yourself up over that Five Guys burger. As long as you are still living life the best way you know how with some sense of purpose, your size along the way doesn’t matter.

As fans, all we require of our artists is that they show up (preferably on time) and perform with gusto to earn our hard-earned money. Clarkson is perfectly capable of doing that at any size. If she decides to lose weight, good on her. If she decides this she’s happiest at the size she is now, good on her. All I want is for her to sing “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.” Everything else is up to her.

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