On Sept. 3, YouTube comedian Nicole Arbour's "Dear Fat People" video sent a lot of humans into a much deserved outrage. ICYMI, Arbour proudly claimed that fat shaming is "not real" and took things so far as to say, “Want to die quicker? It’s assisted suicide."
The video now has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube and 20 million on Facebook. On Sept. 6, Arbour claimed that her channel was taken down by YouTube in a display of censorship, according to CNN, although some, like Inguisitr, believe she took it down for publicity. When asked to comment on the subsequent backlash to her video, Arbour tells Bustle via email, "I believe it was taken down because so many kids and pre-teens flagged it as inappropriate content... which it is for kids, and I'm sorry that YouTubers with young fan bases sent their audiences to see a satire aimed at an adult audience."
Not unlike when Project Harpoon surfaced, I began seeing Arbour's video being shared over and over in outrage, watching it climb and climb the ladder of views. But here's the thing about fat shamers who do something as public as Arbour: They want attention. According to Arbour, however, "This comedic topic was requested by my Facebook fans, so I did it," she says via email. "At the end of the day, I love everyone and was just doing a bit."
As is often the case with public fat shaming, a lot of important dialogue and conversations about self love were sparked in response to Arbour's video. It's that self love that needs to be the focus instead of thinly veiled hate speech parading around as comedy. There's a lot of power in seeing alternative narratives to beauty standards or hearing personal stories of empowerment, so I wanted to share seven body positive videos to watch instead of giving Arbour any more views.
1. "Stop Apologizing For Your Body!"
YouTube blogger TatiAnaMercedes shares their perspective as a black non-binary trans person of size, and has been doing so since 2007. Although their "Stop Apologizing For Your Body!" video is from 2013, it's as relevant as ever.
In the video, Mercedes says, "I’m not mad at my fat body, I’m mad at the fatphobic society and that’s what needs to be exposed.” It's so important to remember that fat shaming is not an individual reflection of who you are, but rather a reflection of a much deeper message about how society determines our worth.
2. "What I Want To Say To Fat People"
There have been a lot of videos made in response to Arbour's, and Whitney Way Thore of TLC's My Big Fat Fabulous Life was one response video that got a lot of attention — for good reason. Thore and her sunny disposition take on Arbour's "arguments" against the validity of fat shaming as she responds passionately while sharing her own experiences. Thore stresses that health (which encompasses more than just physical health) is not something you can determine from looking at a person.
3. "My Beautiful Struggle"
I had never heard of beauty blogger Jordan Bone before I watched her recent viral video "My Beautiful Struggle," which now has more than 2.5 million views on YouTube. The video begins with Bone explaining that 10 years ago she became a tetraplegic after a car accident. She shares her personal story of perseverance to reclaim her identity while visually showing how she learned to use her hands to do her makeup. Bone also notes that she can't dress herself or do her own hair, so doing her own makeup is very important to her. She says, "Showing the vulnerable you isn't always easy, but know that you are amazing and you are so beautiful no matter what."
4. "Why Fat Girls Shouldn't Wear Bikinis"
Spoiler alert: The title of the video is totally thrown on its head by arguably one of YouTube's most popular plus size fashion bloggers, Loey Lane. With nearly 500,000 subscribers, Lane often uses her fashion videos as a chance to speak on body positivity, such as her plus size swimwear lookbook, in which she tackles backhanded compliments like, "You're pretty for a fat girl."
In "Why Fat Girls Shouldn't Wear Bikinis," Lane combats some of the comments she receives in response to her wearing a two-piece. She challenges these words and reminds fellow fat girls to dress for themselves, saying, “Why is it that someone else is allowed to dictate that you are not allowed to put something on your body that makes them uncomfortable?”
5. "Response: Dear Fat People"
I didn't want to share too many "Dear Fat People" responses, but I couldn't not share that of singer/songwriter and self love activist Meghan Tonjes. Her heartfelt and tear-filled response summed up a lot of the emotions that we as fat women often go through when we are publicly fat shamed.
She says, "It's so easy to go after fat people because it takes a lot of time and energy and effort to view people as people and to view them as well fully formed people that you have to get to know and it's not so easy to put people in a box of good and bad and to look at someone and just think that you know everything that they've ever gone through, or where they are with their body and their relationship with their body." It's exhausting to constantly be the butt of someone's joke — someone who knows anything about you other than your size — but Tonjes really nails the experience and emotion behind being fat shamed.
6. "If You're Different, It's Sunlight In Someone Else's World"
I first learned about the What's Underneath Project when Bustle's Associate Fashion and Beauty Editor Marie Southard Ospina was featured. The mother-daughter duo of Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum showcases individuals who prove that style isn't about the clothes you wear, but the comfort you feel in your own skin. There are so many good videos to choose from, but I absolutely love the one with editor and model Jillian Mercado, who recently signed with IMG. The title of the video comes from a quote in which Mercado says, "It’s really boring to see the same people so if you’re different that’s sunlight in somebody’s world," and that's an attitude that we definitely need to hear more of.
7. "Stripping Away Negative Body Image"
This entire video is pretty quote-worthy when it comes to self acceptance and fat empowerment. The one thing burlesque dancer Lillian Bustle says that I think is especially important to remember in the face of fat shaming is this:
"I am fat. I happen to use this word as a self-descriptor. And I don't say it to put myself down. And I certainly don't say it in hopes that someone will say, 'Oh no, you're not fat.' No one says to a tall person, 'You're not tall,' because tall is not a dirty word. We are so programmed to tell each other that we're not fat, because to many fat is the worst thing you can be. Society has turned fat into a synonym for ugly but fat just means fat. I'm 5'3" so I call myself short. I'm married so I call myself a wife. I weigh 240 pounds so I call myself fat. And I am beautiful so I call myself beautiful. And I am all of those things at once."
In the face of fat shaming, it's crucial to remember that fat is just a descriptor.
If you want to watch Arbour's video but don't want to give her dollars via views, check out comedian Shawn Halperin's response instead, which features her full video plus his commentary.