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So Adam Richman, a guy who was originally famous for eating massive amount of food on a dare on cable television, lost some weight. The star of the Travel Channel’s extremely lucrative show “Man vs. Food” lost over 60 pounds and as the picture above indicates he wants everybody to know it. That’s all well and good. We’ve all been there. It’s part of the weight loss cycle. The post-weight-loss, check me out in my skinny jeans euphoria.
So Adam Richman likes to post pictures of his new, skinnier self on Instragram (fine) with the tag “thinspiration”. (Cue record scratch, car screeching to a halt, hold the dang phone noises.) In case any of you are not familiar, “thinspiration” is a tag often used by people with anorexia and bulimia specifically to mark images of very thin or emaciated people to help “inspire” them to continue their disordered behaviors. It’s okay if you didn’t know that. It seems likely that Adam Richman didn’t know that either before he blithely used it in a public forum to document his weight loss. Again, this mistake is understandable and probably forgivable. It’s what happened next that caused the proverbial manure to hit the proverbial propeller. When some fans tried to point out to Richman that he probably shouldn’t use the “thinspiration” tag, given its association with eating disorders, which by the way are pretty serious, and by the way kill people, Richman kind of lost his mind. What ensued was an epic temper tantrum and classic case of celebrity hubris.
He responded to one person who politely pointed out the whole “thinspiration” tag issue with:
“(DILLIGAF, aka, “do i look like I give a f–k?”)”
So size activist Amber Sarah got on her personal Instagram account and encouraged her followers to write to Adam and tell him that eating disorders are no joke, that people die from them and that he should reconsider. I think it would be fair to call Richman’s response “ill condidered”.
Among his responses were:
…Give me a f#$%%ng break. If someone acts like a c$%t I’ll call them one. It’s not misogyny, it’s calling a spade a spade. Maybe you’re the one being aggressive & unfair and yes – if the use of the hashtag offended you, it was unintentional & for that I’m sorry.
Okay. Let’s score this effort. 10 points for calling a woman a c$nt and then saying it’s not misogyny. 10 points for the spade a spade analogy (which boasts some deeply racist roots). 10 points for insulting black people and women in one little text, yelling at somebody who is calling out his behavior and privilege as unfair and managing to finish up with a no-pology towards people suffering from eating disorders. Dude. This coulda been so simple. If you had just deleted everything in this post before “It was unintentional & for that I’m sorry” you’d have been home free. Some people would have still been mad, but it would have all ultimately calmed down.
But no. He went on to post this little gem:
No, I legitimately don’t give a f$%k about haters & closed-minded internet loudmouths like you. At all. And don’t come to me with childishness when a hashtag throws you into a tizzy of comments about “never watching you again.” Seriously, grab a razor blade & draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you.
And this one:
Oh, eat a bag of sh#t dummy. No apology is coming. If it inspires somebody to attain a healthy thinner body – then that’s what it was meant to do. Only f$%k up it seems is your Dad’s choice to go without a condom.
Okay. So somebody calls you out for being unintentionally insensitive and among the responses you call women c#$ts, call a spade a spade and follow it up by suggesting that those who called you out should kill themselves because they never should have been born? It’s perhaps not surprising if people find the ensuing “apology” you made after you started worrying about, I don’t know, not having a job the next day, a little disingenuous.
And the apology was also managed in fits and starts. It was up on twitter and taken down, it was up on Instagram and taken down. Finally, he apologized on Good Morning America saying “I’ve long struggled with my body image and have worked very hard to achieve a healthy weight. I’m incredibly sorry to everyone I’ve hurt.”
Nevertheless, The Travel Channel has announced that his upcoming show, “Man Finds Food” has been pulled off the schedule indefinitely.
Which leads me to the premise I laid out in the title. “Hubris can be bad for your career, bro.” Hubris: n. 1) Pride or arrogance. 2) In Greek Tragedy an excess of ambition, pride, etc, ultimately causing the transgressor’s ruin.
It’s perhaps not so surprising that Richman thought he could get away with publicly eviscerating fat people. Lord knows he received his share of fat shaming as the star of Man vs. Food. But as Paula Deen and Dov Charney and Terry Richardson are finding out, there is a point of no return. Sexually assault and harass women and you could lose your job and the company you’ve spent your whole life building. Tweet that fat people shouldn’t earn a doctorate and expect to be hauled up for some pretty serious disciplinary action. Express profound racism even when you think you are in private and lose your show and your entire empire. Tell people who call you out for racism and privilege and prejudice that they should kill themselves or should have never been born watch your new show get cancelled before it even airs.
Look, we all make mistakes. But when you are a celebrity, and you make those mistakes in a very public forum like Instagram, there is a cost. And just to be clear. Deleting your mistakes after the fact, in a world where you can make screen shot with one little click of the mouse, is really not gonna work.
And frankly, I’m glad. After all, those of us who write about rights for people of all sizes receive a lot of hate mail. We have people calling us names every single day. Some of us receive hundreds or even thousands of messages on social media in a single week telling us we are worthless, a scourge on humanity, we should have never been born and we should kill ourselves. And frankly, seeing even a single person experience some consequences for this behavior is a little bit encouraging.
Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)