Earlier this month, Bill Maher decided to use his weekly talk show to stand up for immigrants. Just kidding. He criticized the U.S. government for their lack of maternity leave. Nah, not that either. Unfortunately, Bill Maher used his platform to shame fat people. Thankfully, James Corden also has his own talk show and used it to slam Maher’s comments, which may have been the result of the often-divisive host being a little hangry. That’s our nice way of putting it.
On the September 6 episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, the comedian discussed the healthcare system in the U.S., which he believes is not in disarray because of systemic problems, but because of personal choices made by fat people. “We can all keep pretending that health care is an issue between you and the government, but it’s really between you and the waitress,” said Maher, who encouraged his viewers to shame fat people, saying that being fat is a choice. It’s not, unlike being a jerk, which is definitely a choice.
“Being fat isn’t a birth defect. Nobody comes out of the womb needing to buy two seats on the airplane,” said Maher. “We have gone to this weird place where fat is good. It’s pointing out that fat is unhealthy, that’s what’s bad. … Fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback. Some amount of shame is good.”
Actually, no amount of shaming is good. Zero. On Thursday night, Corden told his audience that he watched Bill’s show and felt compelled to do something. “So I sat at home, I was watching this, and all I could think as I was watching, I was like, ‘Oh, man! Somebody needs to say something about this. If only there were someone with a platform who knew what it was actually like to be overweight …’ and then I realized, ‘Oh, that would be me! Oh no!’”
Interjecting humour into his thoughtful and personal piece, Corden opened his monologue by saying that his experiences with Maher have always been positive. “I’ve gotta say, right, that any time I’ve met Bill Maher in person, he’s been nothing but pleasant and kind and nice. Which is why I find 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 you dare!’”
Corden talked about the “insulting misconception that fat people are stupid and lazy,” noting that he’s struggled with his weight all his life and has been on every diet. Corden also addressed the many flaws put forward in Maher’s piece, including Maher’s assertion that being fat is a choice. “Now Bill is right about one thing—he really, really is—this is a health problem. 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,” said Corden.
“But there are numerous reasons why people live their lives 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 Health System found that childhood obesity is directly linked to poverty.” Corden also noted molecular geneticist Jeffery Friedman, who discovered that there are hormones people are born with that have a direct link to obesity.
But Corden’s most striking point came when he discussed the idea that shaming works. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. In fact, it’s been proven that fat shaming is actually linked to people gaining more weight. That’s right, making people feel bad about their weight makes them feel worse, causing them to stress eat and gain more weight. Shocker.
“Until, until we make healthy food and health care 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,” said Corden. “And I believe that Bill’s heart is in the right place, and I truly like that he cares about the condition of my heart. And I will, I will keep trying. All the time. I am aware today that this is going to be a struggle that I will face for the rest of my life. Right? 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.”
It’s rare we find something we love more than Carpool Karaoke, but we really love this.