November 29, 2015

"Dear, Fat People"

Nina Robins, '19

I first heard about vlogger Nicole Arbour’s intensely controversial video called “Dear Fat People” one night early in the school year on Facebook. The video had exploded with several agitated and defensive responses. Friends of mine from various parts of the country were deeply offended by the video and made no hesitation to share their disdain through social media platforms.
Suspicious of the hype, my sister and I watched the video together. I was slightly disturbed, as many were, by the explicit nature of the video, but I laughed out loud quite a few times at the brutal, yet often entertaining, material. Six minutes and nine seconds later, I was off of YouTube and focused on something else. The internet community, however, was not so quick to forget.
Over the following days, dozens of popular YouTubers, including Tyler Oakley and Shane Dawson, voiced their disgust with “Dear Fat People” by posting vlogs on the subject matter ranging from heartfelt speeches to their subscribers to satire almost as sarcastic as the original video. The youth of the world sprinted to back the opinions of their Internet idols, flooding social media with hashtags like #bodypositive and mercilessly attacking “fat shamers.” A newly-coined term to describe people who bully and socially oppress the overweight and obese population.
Interestingly enough, the more videos I watched that ridiculed “Dear Fat People,” the more I became infatuated with “Dear Fat People,” and Arbour herself. Arbour is incredibly charismatic. Her strong opinions and brash delivery, not to mention her winning looks, attract millions of views to her videos. Arbour is smart in that she caters not to a specific demographic of opinions, rather she caters to the Internet as a whole. Some viewers find humour in her energy and spastic jump cuts while others agree with her opinions and enjoy having a voice they can relate with. Still others absolutely despise her, her blunt comedy, and her arguably bigoted opinions, and make every effort to dislike all her videos and report her at every opportunity.
As to the subject matter of the video, Arbour explicitly stated in the beginning of her video that her intent was to target the obese population. She understood that all bodies are beautiful, so long as they are healthy. I commend Arbour because she approached an important health and social issue that most people are understandably very uncomfortable discussing in an attempt not to offend anyone, and she tackled it head-on and brutally.
Arbour wasn’t afraid to go to extremes to push her point to the limit. She decorated her video with hilarious hand motions and colorful storytelling and lit a spark in a potentially somber and, in many cases, unrelatable discussion. Arbour and I share the opinion that it’s totally okay to be #bodypositive when you have a #healthybody, but an unhealthy body is not to be #celebrated.
Obviously, some parts of “Dear Fat People” were incredibly exaggerated and offensive, namely her narration of her escapade in the airport, but her motive was clearly to gain attention. And it worked. At the time of this writing, “Dear Fat People” has over 7.5 million views.
While opinions on Arbour differ, no one can argue that her explicit and assertive tactics helped her to spread her message throughout the media platform and inspired people to directly face the problem of obesity that plagues our world today, in whichever way they see fit.
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