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A debate about fat-shaming has broken out between two television hosts in America, James Corden and Bill Maher. Bill Maher recently conveyed his controversial views on America’s healthcare system and overweight people on his show.

Maher reasoned that the problem with healthcare in the US is that people eat unhealthily and too much. In his monologue, he explained how people complain about medical bills but then don’t watch their diet. He went on to argue that fat-shaming needs to make a “comeback”. Maher believes that fat-shaming would motivate people to lose weight and lead to cheaper medical costs.

Upon hearing this, James Corden ran a segment on his own show sharing his thoughts on Maher’s comments. Corden strongly disagreed with Maher’s views. He explained how obesity is not always a choice. He discussed how genetics can influence body shape and also pointed out the known links between poverty and obesity. Corden stated that fat-shaming “makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour — self-destructive behaviour like overeating.”

Since the hosts’ row, people have taken to Twitter to share their own stories and opinions. A retired baseball player named Kevin Youkilis said in a tweet, “I owe my whole entire career to being fat-shamed.” Youkilis explained that not being chosen to play because of his body type motivated him to get in shape. However, although his experience was positive, a psychologist described it as “atypical“.

Other people came forward too. A woman described how being fat-shamed as a child resulted in her finding comfort in overeating, causing her to become even more unhealthy. Another man described how fat-shaming led to him developing an eating disorder and using unhealthy ways to lose weight.

There has also been criticism of Maher’s stance on healthcare in the US. The extreme cost of healthcare in the US is not because of people overeating and being healthy does not stop people from being bankrupted by accidents and other random hospital bills. Insurance premiums, for-profit hospitals and drug companies are some of the main reasons why healthcare in the US is so expensive. Some people have accused Maher of scapegoating overweight people and ignoring the real problems.

People are continuing to discuss their views and experiences with fat-shaming online, which has led to further discussion about the best ways to cultivate a healthy society.

Difficult words

Conveyed (v): To say an opinion or thought.

Monologue (n): A speech.

Segment (n): A section in a TV show.

Self-destructive (adj): Something (normally behavior) which is damaging to oneself.

Row (n): An argument, common in British English.

Atypical (adj): Not normal.

Stance (n): A position or opinion on a topic.

Scapegoat (n): Someone or thing that is blamed for the bad actions of others.

Cultivate (v): To grow or prepare.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Conveyed A. Argument
2. Monologue B. Section
3. Segment C. Grow
4. Self-destructive D. Blame
5. Row E. Speech
6. Atypical F. Position
7. Stance G. Damaging oneself.
8. Scapegoat H. Not normal.
9. Cultivate I. Express

True or False?

1. The debate was started by Bill Maher and James Corden. T / F

2. Bill Maher believes that people eat unhealthily. T / F

3. Healthcare in the US is too expensive. T / F

4. James Corden agrees with Bill Maher. T / F

5. James Corden believes obesity is not always a choice. T / F

6. A retired baseball player believes fat-shaming harmed him. T / F

7. Some people find comfort in overeating. T / F

8. Overeating is one main reason why American healthcare is so expensive. T / F

9.  Depression does not change people’s behaviour. T / F

10. Some people believe Maher is ignoring the real problem. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. debate / about / fat-shaming / has / A / broken / out

2. Bill / controversial / views / Maher / recently / his / conveyed

3. people / lose / weight / motivate / Maher / to / fat-shaming / would / believes

4. been / of / There / stance / criticism / has / also / Maher’s

5. discuss / views / People / are / to / their / continuing

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English:

American English:

Society Positive Controversial
Motivate Disorder Reasoned
Overweight Influence Behaviour

A debate about fat-shaming has broken out between two television hosts in America, James Corden and Bill Maher. Bill Maher recently conveyed his (1)________________ views on America’s healthcare system and overweight people on his show.

Maher (2)______________ that the problem with healthcare in the US is that people eat unhealthily and too much. In his monologue, he explained how people complain about medical bills but then don’t watch their diet. He went on to argue that fat-shaming needs to make a “comeback”. Maher believes that fat-shaming would (3)___________ people to lose weight and lead to cheaper medical costs.

Upon hearing this, James Corden ran a segment on his own show sharing his thoughts on Maher’s comments. Corden strongly disagreed with Maher’s views. He explained how obesity is not always a choice. He discussed how genetics can (4)_____________ body shape and also pointed out the known links between poverty and obesity. Corden stated that fat-shaming “makes people feel ashamed and shame leads to depression, anxiety and self-destructive behaviour — self-destructive (5)____________ like overeating.”

Since the hosts’ row, people have taken to Twitter to share their own stories and opinions. A retired baseball player named Kevin Youkilis said in a tweet, “I owe my whole entire career to being fat-shamed.” Youkilis explained that not being chosen to play because of his body type motivated him to get in shape. However, although his experience was (6)____________, a psychologist described it as “atypical“.

Other people came forward too. A woman described how being fat-shamed as a child resulted in her finding comfort in overeating, causing her to become even more unhealthy. Another man described how fat-shaming led to him developing an eating (7)____________ and using unhealthy ways to lose weight.

There has also been criticism of Maher’s stance on healthcare in the US. The extreme cost of healthcare in the US is not because of people overeating and being healthy does not stop people from being bankrupted by accidents and other random hospital bills. Insurance premiums, for-profit hospitals and drug companies are some of the main reasons why healthcare in the US is so expensive. Some people have accused Maher of scapegoating (8)_____________ people and ignoring the real problems

People are continuing to discuss their views and experiences with fat-shaming online, which has led to further discussion about the best ways to cultivate a healthy (9)__________.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Which host do you agree with more?
5. Have you ever heard someone fat-shaming another person?
6. Is it socially acceptable to fat-shame someone in your country?
7. What are other kinds of shaming that occur in society?
8. Is there any kind of shaming that you believe is okay?
9. Do you think you would react positively or negatively to shaming?
10. What motivates you to do better?
11. Is there a problem in your country that is wrongly blamed on a certain group of people?
12. Is there a problem with obesity in your country?
13. Is it easier to eat healthily or unhealthily in your country?
14. What type of healthcare system do you have in your country?
15. Is healthcare expensive in your country?
16. What do you know about the healthcare system in the US?
17. How can people be helped to be more healthy?
18. Should healthy-food be cheaper than unhealthy food?
19. Is it a government’s job to protect people’s health?
20. How can people be encouraged to exercise more?