Bill Maher

Playing the Sport of Public Ridicule

Bill Maher has discovered the absurdity of blowhards. Friday on his show, Real Time, he started with the idea that extremes of both the left and the right push some absurd ideas. But then took his sport of public ridicule further. He hurled a rant at people who don’t look like him:

These colors don’t run because these colors can’t run . . . The rotund right is not alone in promoting tolerance of a national health crisis . . . Pretending everyone is beautiful at every size is not helping them, it’s enabling them.

Skipping Over the Facts

He’s dead wrong about enabling people. Research has shown that ridiculing, shaming, and discriminating against people with obesity leads to more obesity, not less. It leads to worse health, not better. A recent study showed that thinking of yourself as overweight can lead to both physical and mental health issues.

The fact is that physical size is largely inherited. Everyone’s body has a different set point for storing fat. Yes, our experiences and our environment have an effect. Our choices have an effect. But those effects show up in people who are biologically wired to gain weight. And denying the primary role of biology is simply dishonest.

Maybe that rant feels good to someone who who wants to think that the body he inherited is evidence of his virtue.

Maher has a point about the absurdity of blowhards. Perhaps he should look in the mirror. It’s one thing to crack a joke about things a person says or does. It’s quite another to ridicule their body and who they are.

That’s why Maher recently had to apologize for lobbing a racial slur. That’s why he should apologize for ridiculing people based on their size.

Click here for more from the Obesity Action Coalition. For more from the New York Times about the harm of weight stigma, click here.

Ranting About People with Obesity, from Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


August 23, 2017