Nicole Arbour’s “Dear Fat People” video has sparked a conversation, a massive people-to-blogger-to-Facebook-to-comment-to-news media type of shouting match. On Sept. 9, the video had 18 million views between YouTube and Facebook; two days later, the number has risen to 25 million. A Google search for “fat shaming” generates over 4 million results. No, the video has not reached the level of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” (2 billion+) nor Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” (1 billion+) but so far it beats out Justin Timberlake & Jimmy Fallon’s new “History of Rap.”
“Dear Fat People” has done what marketers and content messengers try to do every day in our intensely cluttered digital world: to break through, to get attention. My students studying social media looked at this video and analyzed what makes it “sticky,” “spreadable,” and “contagious.” They say this video is viral because the content:
· is visually compelling -- Arbour’s eye to the camera, blond/lipstick contrast
· is engaging through her physicality – her movements
· has keen production value -- jump cuts accentuate
· makes use of tone – her intensity, some self mockery
· is honest, and several other traits
The characteristic no one mentioned? Humor.
The comedian’s video isn’t funny. Most (and possibly every one in the room) found it cruel and mean-spirited. It has succeeded, however, in starting a conversation. Elle magazine is one of many media newsjacking this issue – appropriately so – to blast Arbour for shamelessly trolling for attention and video views. Her video does NOT inspire behavior change. Elle’s Sarah Marshall writes
“Fat-shaming like Arbour's can never help anyone to lose weight
because it urges people to see themselves with hatred and disgust,
rather than the care, attention, and respect that change—of any
Now, that’s a conversation worth having.