An open letter to my favorite comedian, Bill Maher.
Dear Bill Maher,
You have been my absolute favorite comedian for the last 15 years. I have seen you live over 6 times and laugh like there’s no tomorrow. You were the first atheist I ever “knew” and your comedy helped me when I was sick and miserable with cancer in my 20’s.
You did your finale on your show about obesity on 8/18/17. You had some great points about Michelle Obama getting grief for implementing healthy eating and the fact that 18% of deaths may be obesity related. According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity and overweight together are the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States, close behind tobacco use.
Although you’re information is mostly accurate, your comedy was pretty hurtful. “But among the shaming police, the most important message you could ever send an obese person is that your body is perfect just the way it is… prone on a gurney.” Really?
Being raised in the 80’s, I grew up on inexpensive food… bologna and cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and shake n’ bake chicken. My mom couldn’t afford for us to eat out often, or even buy fresh veggies. We ate broccoli from a bag and corn from a can. I grew a little and longed for the McDonalds Big Mac that I saw glorified on TV during all of my favorite shows.
I’ve seen every adult woman in my life on a diet. Every one of them limits their food and is perpetually miserable because fat free ranch is disgusting and what other options were there in 1999? We were all consuming sugar instead of fat and thinking we were going to feel amazing. That didn’t happen. The organic food wave came in the 2000’s giving us a new approach to eating well. The problem is organic is more expensive, Certified Organic even more so.
So we go on with our fast paced lives and grab what we can on our way to work. Maybe we grab a bacon and cheese biscuit or we grab a quick power bar on our way out at 6am. We order take out with the staff at work or chow down on a ham sandwich. Drinks for happy hour at 7pm (because that’s how long we work on the daily in 2017) and then we get home and eat our grass fed beef and organic arugula salad and give ourselves a pat on the back for a successful day, probably even answer more work emails, and the cycle continues.
Shaming the obese has been done. We all went to high school and dealt with the comments. I expect to watch you voice your opinion with democrats and republicans on the show. I expect banter and disagreements. I don’t expect actual body shaming. Your words were hurtful and blazé. You lumped a huge group of people together without going to the why and how we got where we are, and I’m disappointed. I realize that you segued into the freedom of speech talk and the fact that Trump sued you for a joke, but none the less, you were extremely insensitive. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America, so keep that in mind when you joke about and degrade someone for something they may or may not be able to control. Whether you like it or not, you’re looked up to. Your words matter.
Sincerely your fan,