Words can be so much more harmful than one could imagine. Recently, a YouTuber by the name of Nicole Arbour uploaded a video called “Dear Fat People” which immediately created a huge controversy. In her video, she claimed that body and fat shaming simply didn’t exist, and such claims are the “race card of fat people.”
The remainder of Arbour’s video consisted of many comments doing what she claimed didn’t exist, body shaming. Her comments went all over the map, from claiming that disability placards for those who have disabilities affecting their weight are “assisted suicide” to grotesquely shaming a family she had seen at the airport.
Many people were outraged at this video, understandably. This very conventionally beautiful, fair-skinned blonde woman preached about other people’s’ bodies, acting as though she is an expert.
For someone like myself, who has struggled with body image from a very young age, watching this video went from cringeworthy to severely triggering.
It isn’t just about being offended; it’s about feeling attacked and suffocated by not only the body expectation of women, but the harsh, scolding criticism from someone who has the image I could never obtain.
It has taken me years to come to love myself. I am not severely overweight; statistically, I’m fairly average. However, I spent the majority of my teenage years wondering if anyone would ever call me beautiful. I struggled with depression from the tender age of 13, and people like Nicole Arbour pushed me further away from a healthy life and into a downward spiral.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), from the ages 12 to 17 in the U.S., an estimated 2.6 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Teenage girls are in a state where they absorb the world around them, with the last perspective of wonder from their childhood.
When these impressionable girls see a world where their bodies aren’t skinny enough, pretty enough, too short, tall, pale, or tan, what are they supposed to think?
These girls internalize all these impossible beauty standards and start the process of self-consciousness, which causes them to demean any pride in themselves. Suddenly, they feel they aren’t smart enough, or too smart, quiet orloud. Their personality gets lost in this constant, impossible battle of living up to everyone’s standards.
For some of these depressed teens, the burden is too much. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. How can we let this toxic trend continue to poison and kill our youth? It all starts with one comment, or video like Nicole Arbour’s.
While it is perfectly acceptable to promote a healthy lifestyle, it is important to realize that healthy looks different for each individual. Body shaming is absolutely real and is damaging to its victims.
Instead of shaming someone into starvation, express concern in a healthy, constructive manner to your loved ones. If you are judging a stranger on their body, you need to step back and ask yourself really why you should be. To be quite honest, your body is your business, and theirs is not your business.
Body positivity is a growing movement that should be supported now more than ever. Campaigns from some companies, such as Dove, use social media campaigns to promote body positivity. I can only hope that the trend will gravitate towards acceptance and veer away from the toxic negativity that is body shaming.