Update: The YouTube channel belonging to Nicole Arbour has been restored after several days of heated back-and-forth regarding the comedian's "fat shaming" schtick. Arbour has intimated that the controversial video was intended to be satirical. This fact was however lost on most viewers. This week, Arbour continues to decry the censorship of her videos — and points to sexism as one reason that her rant made such major waves. "The reason there's an issue is because I don't "look" like a traditional comedian," she tweeted Tuesday. "If I were a guy, people would have lol'd n moved on." She might have a point about that: Female comics are often judged by different standards than their male colleagues. Be that as it may, Arbour may have done more harm than anything else with her video. As plus size model and creator of #effyourbeautystandards, Tess Holliday put it: "Fat shaming doesn't save lives, it kills them."
The comedian seems to be handling the criticism well enough. "Whoever just called me the Kanye West of @YouTube on the radio in London," she tweeted earlier today, "I'll take it! ...and a pair of Yeezy Boost please." Watch the video in full below.
This story was originally published on September 7, 2015 at 5:45 p.m.
This weekend, YouTube symbolically drew a line in the sand about fat-shaming. Comedian Nicole Arbour's YouTube channel was temporarily suspended after community uproar regarding her six-minute video rant, "Dear Fat People," CNN reported. Now don't get it twisted: YouTube loves a good video rant. Take superstar Jenna Marbles, for instance, who has an entire video playlist dedicated to her not-so-friendly thoughts on annoying neighbors, apps, and marriage. Marbles and other big YouTube names like Superwoman, Kingsley, and Glozell have taken their support straight to the bank. A funny, opinionated contrarian can certainly translate into YouTube gold and massive audiences. But when Arbour posted a Marbles-style video rant about overweight people on Thursday, the online community didn't laugh along quite so readily. "Fat-shaming is not a thing," Arbour says early in the video. "Fat people made that up." From there, Arbour proceeds to toss out practically every bad joke and stereotype you've ever heard about overweight people. Notably, she also disabled the likes and comments on the video. The YouTube community backlash began in earnest, starting with a response video from singer-songwriter Meghan Tonjes, urging Arbour to consider the people who live inside those bodies she's mercilessly mocking.
"It's not necessarily the video," Tonjes explains in her vlog. "It's just the mindset I find really upsetting, even if it's done for, like, satire or comedy, which this just isn't. I find it really harmful." YouTube star Grace Helbig even weighed in, in a rare response vlog:
"To me, it looks like you're using a controversial, personal subject to leverage subscribers and attention in a really negative way, which really bums me out because comedy can really be amazingly powerful and positive," Helbig says. Indeed, Arbour's channel attracted a controversy-fueled subscriber boost since the video's release and its subsequent responses. But in reply to community concerns, YouTube briefly suspended Arbour's account on Sunday. Shut out of YouTube, Arbour took to Twitter to defend her "satire" and decry the online video giant's "censorship."
So far, Arbour has expressed no contrition for the video. Rather, it seems the title of an old video she most recently reuploaded, "Most Offensive Video EVER," says it all. Nonetheless, YouTube's actions have sent a signal. It is watching out for the concerns its creators raise, and their impact — both potentially positive and negative — to its impressionable viewership and the cultural conversations at large.