Dear Nicole Arbour: I’d Rather Be Fat Than Be You


Dear Nicole Arbour,

I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of people who saw your YouTube video addressing your incredibly awful opinions about the individuals you so bluntly call fat people. I saw it on your Facebook, saw you oh-so-endearingly wink about the controversy that followed on your Twitter, and saw it online before YouTube ended up censoring your channel.

In a way, I think a form of congratulations is in order. You absolutely got exactly what you wanted from that video. You wanted attention, you wanted subscribers, you wanted Twitter followers. You wanted your Google search history to blow the fuck up and for yourself to become a name that was instantly recognizable. And you got it! Other more prominent YouTubers like Grace Helbig and Tyler Oakley came out speaking against you, which may seem like a bad thing but realistically follows the age old saying that, “Any press is good press.” You used controversy and being offensive as a way to leverage a conversation to center solely around you, and to get attention, and it worked. So congrats, you nailed it.

Don’t worry; I’ll get to your wildly angering and incorrect statements in a minute. But what I still feel the need to address is the type of video you “claimed” you were making. The thing that bothers me the most, Nicole, is how cruel you came across. You called your video “satire” when addressing that YouTube chose to censor you, but I don’t think you really understand what satire is. Satire is rooted in sarcasm and exaggeration; it’s irony. Satire isn’t a girl making a poor attempt to mimic Jenna Marbles and direct incredibly specific cracks at a family she encountered in an airport. Furthermore, satire isn’t about being completely mean-spirited and isolating to one specific percentage of the population.

What you did, Nicole, wasn’t comedy. It was simply hateful.

You opened your video by stating that anyone with a medical condition was excluded from your thoughts and opinions. Well, Nicole, binge eating is considered an eating disorder and has been labeled so in the DSM-5 since 2013. And that doesn’t take into account conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hyperthyroidism, mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder which can be linked to inexplicable weight gain, and even certain types of cancer. You have no idea what could be causing someone’s body to be the way that it is, regardless of whether or not it is aesthetically pleasing to you. How dare you assume that just because someone’s body is different than yours, it must simply be due to “not exercising or eating right.”

You made a point to say, “Big boned isn’t a thing, how stupid do I look?” I’ll get the stupid part, hold please. While you may be correct that a skeletal system is generally the same from person to person, you ARE stupid if you cannot acknowledge that all bodies and body types are different. Is being big boobed something that doesn’t exist either, Nicole? Is that something you made up to excuse spilling out of your tank top in every video while my cleavage is more subtle since I’m the treasurer of the IBTC? OBVIOUSLY your boobs are something you had control over and not something that was genetically predetermined or due to something like a type of birth control you might be taking. (PS: That’s how you do satire.) I am clearly in the right to make a rash and uninformed opinion about your body by simply because I didn’t really care to see those sweater puppies bounce around in your Victoria’s Secret Body Bra, right?

The thing is, Nicole, as stupid as I think your video was, I don’t think you’re stupid. I think you made a calculated decision to say something that would get you a ton of clicks and attention. I think you are obviously a very witty, funny girl with comedic timing, who saw a “get rich quick” kind of ploy and took it. And I also think you’re entitled to your opinion – even if I disagree with it. What I don’t think you’re entitled to is making crass, judgmental, hateful jokes at the expense of other people, simply because you don’t “get” them.

When you do things like this, you set all comedians back. If you’re going to make a light of something that could be touchy, maybe make it about yourself. Examples: when Amy Schumer makes jokes centered around promiscuity, she bases it around her own sexual experiences. When Chelsea Peretti cracks off about women not being respected in the workforce, it’s rooted in honesty of her experiences writing for TV. When Thought Catalog alumni and all around gem, Ryan O’Connell makes light of disabilities, it’s rooted from his own life because he has CP. If you really can’t find a place of relatability with your comedy, it has to be placed in a way where people are able to laugh WITH you. If you find you’re the only one laughing, it’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t have said it in the first place.

If you genuinely wanted to help people and assist them in getting themselves to a healthier place, there was a different way to go about it. You don’t get to post, “You go girl” tweets in regard to weight loss online because if that was really your goal, you never made that the point. You could have made it a discussion about how to make healthier choices, the things you do to keep yourself in shape, but you didn’t. You turned the conversation completely off, making your personal opinions all that mattered, all that had a voice. So really, this wasn’t about that. This wasn’t really about keeping people “around on this planet longer.”

It was only about you.

You disabled the comments on your own goddamn video, which is not only an INFURIATING move, but proves that you couldn’t back up your words. I GET that comments suck. But you don’t get to turn them off because you’re scared. You don’t get to make controversial comments for the sake of making them, if you aren’t going to have the spine to deal with the aftermath.

Nicole, I think I speak for myself and a great number of other women who consider themselves a part of the internet and the comedy world when I say, I am very disappointed in you. We all make jokes that might turn someone into the awkward, straight-across-teeth-emoji every now and then. But we all also make statements after the fact to say, “I didn’t deliver that very well.” I sincerely hope you take a day where you log out of Twitter, stop claiming you broke the internet, (You ain’t Kim K-W, sister) and you reflect on the power that your words actually hold.

Nobody is perfect, but you have the opportunity to own up to what you did and speak plainly either clarifying something that may have been poorly edited (Seriously quit it with the comparing a body type that’s unlike your own to being a smoker. It’s not only rude, it’s a bad joke. Do better.) or poorly executed, or you can just apologize for how you came across.

Let’s take a step back and dive into the ridiculously triggering way your voice and opinions came across, even though it’s been covered. You made people, like myself, who are relatively fit human beings, look at themselves and unfortunately uncover years worth of body image issues they had worked so hard at moving past.

You made me think about my best-friend who was so convinced in high-school that her little stomach roll when she sat down was so undesirable that she starved herself down to a human skeleton. She may not have been big boned, Nicole, and we are 100% sure of that because we were able to count her ribs and the divots along her spinal column.

You made a video aimed at being controversial towards one group, and along the way triggered absolutely everyone. You are the type of person every girl who hears the word “fat” and cringes, is scared of encountering.

You are the person who has made “fat” the worst thing someone can be. Not cruel, uncouth, unintelligent, ignorant, impolite. Just fat. That, according to you, is the bottom of the barrel.

But me, Nicole? I don’t think being fat is a bad thing. I think being an attention and controversy-seeking fame junkie is a bad thing. I also think being mean for the sake of being mean is a bad thing. I think not owning my words and allowing people to question them is a bad thing. I think not apologizing when I need to because I’ve messed up is a bad thing. So I will take all of those things, I will make a mental note to never apply them to myself, and then I will go eat a fucking cookie without worrying about the calories.

And guess what? That cookie is going to taste better than your bitter attempt at comedy ever will.


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Kendra Syrdal


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