Recently, a YouTube personality made a video directed at overweight people. The six-minute-long tirade claimed that body shaming isn't a real thing, and that overweight individuals should be shamed into eating less and exercising in order to lose weight. It would be for their own good, the video claimed. This has caused a huge backlash, with many criticizing not only the mean-spirited nature of the video, but the root of the video's "message" as well.
Gregory Brown and Mitchell Moffit — the duo behind the incredibly popular AsapSCIENCE YouTube channel — decided to look at the theme video objectively. Body shaming is real and it is everywhere, but is it actually helpful?
It doesn't appear to be.
Research has shown that those who are made to feel bad about their weight are more likely to exercise less and actually gain more weight. It turns into a constant feedback loop where there are no winners, only shame and derision. The psychological effects from body shaming are unsurprisingly similar to the depression and anxiety the manifest from being bullied.
Experiencing size discrimination can actually change how a particular weight-related protein in the body is expressed. This protein is a biomarker for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
But if trying to shame someone into changing their behavior doesn't work to avoid the risk of disease, what does? As it turns out, a little love and understanding goes a long way.
Mitchell explains that programs that focus on overall health and making healthy choices are much healthier than those who put all of their stock into the number on the scale.
They also address claims that the fat-shaming video was made as comedy, though public opinion has disagreed resolutely that it was funny. However, Gregory and Mitchell point out that humor is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
"If your brand of comedy is something that's intentionally offensive, then you can't get mad when people are offended," Gregory explained. "For example, when comedians tell gay jokes, sometimes I think it's funny and sometimes I think it's offensive. And when I do think it's offensive, I'm allowed to feel that way and also express why it offended me."
When it comes to making jokes at someone's expense, true intent is everything.
Mitchell quickly followed up, summing up the entire crux of the fat-shaming video:
"Finally, just stop disguising your fat hate as you genuinely wanting to help other people," Mitchell said. "If you wanted to help other people around you, there's a lot of other ways you could do it, and it's completely self-righteous to act like you're only doing this because you have the best intentions at heart."
Listen to Gregory and Mitchell's powerful message here, including their important final thoughts on the matter:
Is body shaming helpful? No. It absolutely isn't.