Tik-Tok star Remi Baders horse ranch incident has an even darker side
Fat-shaming discourages people from doing physical activity and worsens their health.
The recent incident of fat-shaming that TikTok influencer Remi Bader experienced was repugnant. After being denied access to riding a horse for weighing over 240 pounds, Bader said she was “laughed at” by someone working on the ranch and that one employee even posted a TikTok video stating “when you’re not a fat b—-, you can ride at Deep Hollow Ranch.”
Regardless of their weight, people who have a perception of weight discrimination are less physically active.
Beyond being an abhorrent example of bad behavior, it’s also a sadly typical example of the mistreatment that many overweight Americans suffer — one that only makes their weight struggles harder. Over 40% of American adults report experiences with weight-based teasing, and this treatment is worsening the health problems
Obesity, defined as having a body mass index of 30 or higher, is increasingly common in the United States. (BMI takes into account your height and your weight. For example, a person who is 5’9” and weighs 203 pounds or more would have a BMI of 30, making them obese.) The prevalence of obesity among Americans grew more than 10 percentage points over the past 20 years, according to the latest statistics from 2017-2020 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found that 41.9% of adult Americans are obese, with 1 in 5 Americans aged 2 to 19 being classified as obese.
People who are obese know they have a weight problem and do not need to be reminded of it. The only person who should be giving advice is their physician so that they can work together to address it. Those who think they are being helpful and justify fat-shaming as a means of motivation for weight loss are completely misguided. Instead, fat-shaming is harmful to its victims’ health. When fat-shaming turns into weight-based discrimination, it’s associated with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and eating disorders.
So perversely, the more discrimination obese people face, the more weight they often gain. This discrimination causes stress and, in turn, behavior changes that are linked to weight gain, including binge-eating disorder. This serious medical condition causes individuals to eat large amounts of food without being able to stop, something Bader has personally struggled with.
One of the more insidious ways this weight gain can happen is after experiences like the one Bader says she faced at the horse ranch: The stigma associated with obesity can lead to a decrease in physical activity. Regardless of their weight, people who have a perception of weight discrimination are less physically active. And although most weight loss is a result of eating fewer calories, regular physical activity is the only way to maintain weight loss.
The guidelines at the ranch might have been reasonable. A link on its website spells out that horses can’t comfortably bear more than 20% of their weight, which is what a veterinary study from Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute has found. Though Bader noted she’s ridden horses in the past, she also said that she’d “never want to hurt the horses” and that being denied the chance to ride wasn’t the reason she publicized her experience. “I get it, some places have weight requirements.”
Instead, she explained, she shared what happened because of “the way I was spoken [to] and laughed at … and the way I was treated overall,” including the video posted by a ranch employee “who made very clear that they did not want me there because of my weight and that’s very disappointing.” Deep Hollow Ranch later issued an apology and said the employee’s video, since deleted, “in no way represents nor is aligned with” the view of the owners of the ranch.