When Rob Kardashian was seen in LAX with Kris Jenner on Sunday, all everyone could focus on was the fact that he had gained a lot of weight since the last time we saw him. That would be relatively fine, considering our appearance-based society, but the commentary on Kardashian's weight gain quickly made the jump from factual to downright rude, featuring a lot of mean-spirited jokes and statements. The scrutiny got so bad that Rob Kardashian actually addressed the issue on his Twitter, leading to a complete 180 in public opinion.
A key component of fat shaming is a willful ignorance of the fact that the person the fat shaming is aimed at is more than just their body size. It involves a dehumanization of the target, a narrowing down of their personal characteristics to their physical one, and a disregard for their emotions. The Internet is a notorious forum for dehumanization, since it gives us access to other people that we don't actually know but enables us to feel like we know them well enough to say whatever we want about them.
I highly doubt that Kardashian's critics actually expected him to address their comments, especially not so soon, but his open letter to Twitter certainly went a long way to remind people that he's human and has access to the Internet as well. By responding to the controversy as soon as it crops up, Kardashian is taking control just as quickly as it was taken from him instead of allowing it to escalate without everyone knowing exactly what it is they're doing by making these comments.
Kardashian's tweets are on point in several ways. In the first place, instead of getting justifiably angry or cursing anybody out, he remains calm and almost upbeat considering the nature of the gossip and how close to home they must have hit. He denies the portions of the criticism that are untrue and owns the parts that are true, without apologizing and without any apparent shame. The general tone of his messages is that he is working on himself and people should shut up about his weight, which is as true a statement as anyone in his position could have made.
While that wasn't enough to silence the truly determined, Kardashian's speech was enough to turn the tide of Twitter opinions, which have been largely more supportive ever since. People have been sending love Kardashian's way, urging him to ignore the haters and focus on his own happiness and sympathizing with his struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Even though this is exactly the kind of response that people should be having to Kardashian's predicament, it does raise an interesting question as to why this outpouring of love and support only came after Kardashian spoke up to address the hate himself. The people sending hate far outstripped the people sending love after Kardashian's photographs first hit the Internet and now the opposite seems to be true, almost as if everyone realized that they live in a fish bowl and the subject of their seemingly-anonymous tweets can actually read and respond to them.
It shouldn't have taken Kardashian speaking up in defense of himself to get people to rally around him in support. It shouldn't take a reminder that people are actually people in order for them to be treated as such. This probably won't be the last that we hear of Rob Kardashian or fat shaming or both, but for now he's managed to show the Internet exactly how classy he can be in response to unwarranted negativity.