Let's not pretend that obesity isn't an issue. It is, and it's a big one. However, people tend to forget that obesity isn't a choice. Sure, there are contributing factors, but it doesn't mean that it's in an overweight person's control.
Bill Maher, who is often outspoken, made some controversial comments on his show suggesting that fat shaming needs to make a comeback.
“Fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback,” Maher said. “Some amount of shame is good. We shamed people out of smoking and into wearing seat belts. We shamed them out of littering and most of them out of racism. Shame is the first step in reform. It's not just about being able to see your doctor. It's also about being able to see your d**k."
This didn't sit well with most people, including TV host James Corden who has often been open about his struggles with weight. He decided to respond to Maher's comments on his own show, and explained why fat-shaming isn't an effective way to solve the problem.
"So I'm sat at home and I'm watching this and all I can think is 'ah man, somebody needs to say something about this. If only there was someone with a platform who actually knew what it was like to be overweight' and then I realized ah, that would be me," Corden began.
"Now, here's the thing. I actually have a lot in common with Bill Maher, I do," Corden admitted. "We both shoot our shows here in the same building, we both host the second-most popular talk shows on our network, and we've both made, shall we say, questionable choices in our film careers."
"I gotta say, any time I've met Bill Maher in person he's been nothing but pleasant and kind and nice," the host noted. "Which is why I found it so surprising that he, or anybody, thinks that fat-shaming needs to make a comeback because fat-shaming never went anywhere. I mean, ask literally any fat person. We are reminded of it all the time. On airplanes, on Instagram, when someone leaves a pie on the windowsill to cool and they give us a look like 'don't...don't you dare!'"
"Now there's a common and insulting misconception that fat people are stupid and lazy, and we're not," Corden pointed out. "We get it. We know. We know that being overweight isn't good for us, and I've struggled my entire life trying to manage my weight and I suck at it. I've had good days...and bad months. I've basically been off and on diets for as long as I can remember and well...this is how it's going."
"Here's the thing, we're not all as lucky as Bill Maher. We don't all have a sense of superiority that burns 35,000 calories a day," he joked. "I kid because I love! Bill, I sincerely believe that what you think you're offering here is tough love, and you're just trying to help by not sugar-coating reality for fat people even though you know how much fat people love sugar-coating things."
"But the truth is you're working against your own cause," Corden pointed out. "It's proven that fat-shaming only does one thing—it makes people feel ashamed. And shame leads to depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behaviors. Self-destructive behavior like over-eating. When I watched that clip I got up, walked to the freezer, and grabbed a pint of ice cream. I'm kidding I was already halfway through the pint when I started watching, but Bill may have made me finish it!"
"We're using this term 'fat-shaming', we've come up with a name for it. Let's be honest. Fat-shaming is just bullying," Corden said. "That's what it is. It's bullying. And bullying only makes the problem worse. I don't think stuff like this is going to solve the obesity epidemic."
Corden then played a clip from Maher and directly responded to it.
"Believe me, I can see a d**k. Now look, Bill Maher makes an interesting point if you go back and watch it all, but there's a lot that he got wrong in this piece, including making the claim that Europe doesn't really have fat people," Corden continued. "Your honor, I'd like to present exhibit A. Now I know that Britain's relationship with Europe is strained right now, but I lived there for 37 years and trust me, there are fat people in Europe. Maybe not as many as in America, but the reasons for that are complex."
"In fact, this entire issue is a lot more complex than he's making it out to be. Now Bill is right about one thing, he really really is: this is a health problem," Corden said. "It's an issue that needs to be discussed clearly and honestly. It's an epidemic and when you look at the numbers, it's terrifying. There are numerous reasons why people live their life at an unhealthy weight. Junk food, portion control, a lack of exercise, these are all major contributing factors. But poverty is also an issue. A study conducted by the University of Michigan heath system found that childhood obesity is directly linked to poverty, but fun fact: if you shame obese children, Whole Foods will give them free salads."
"I'm kidding that's not how Whole Foods works," the host joked. "Sometimes, genetics plays a role. There's a molecular geneticist, Jeffrey Friedman, who discovered a hormone called leptin. Defects in the leptin gene are linked directly to obesity. They are. And here's a fun fact: if you shame the gene, it actually fixes itself. I'm kidding! That's not how science works!"
"A lack of shame is not the issue here," Corden suggested. "If making fun of fat people made them lose weight, there'd be no fat kids in school and I'd have a six-pack by now. Until we make healthy food and healthcare more accessible and we properly educate people on nutrition and exercise, maybe we can hold back on the whole "call fat people virgins until they lose weight" strategy."
"And I believe that Bill's heart is in the right place, and I like that he truly cares about the condition of my heart, and I will keep trying all the time, I am aware today that this is struggle that I am going to face for the rest of my life," Corden concluded. "But in the meantime Bill, please hear me when I say this: while you're encouraging people to think about what goes into their mouths, just think a little harder about what comes out of yours."
Corden's response went completely viral, with people applauding the host for not only being open about the struggles he's faced, but also about the contributing factors that many people fail to acknowledge when talking about the obesity crisis.
You can watch Corden's full clip here.
What do you think of Corden's response?