Last week, former “Man vs. Food” host Adam Richman’s Instagram battle with “Fat Activist” Amber Sarah—a 27-year old, who once struggled with an eating disorder—went nationwide after Richman chose to use the hashtag “thinspiration” at the end of one of his posts. Sarah posted the details of their encounter on her blog, and the firestorm that let loose, following the public backlash, led to the postponement, and possible cancellation of, Richman’s new Travel Channel show.
Now, I’ve read a few items here and there, and I’ll be honest, I don’t get this chick’s initial problem.
Let me be completely clear here, I am in no way condoning Richman’s behavior. His reaction was way over the top, given the circumstances, and he should’ve handled the situation with a lot more maturity and decorum, but he had every right to use the word “thinspiration” at the end of his post.
Sarah repeatedly has stated that his position as a “public figure” meant that he should be held accountable for his words and actions, and while I agree with her that words are power—particularly when they come out of the mouths of celebrities—Richman was in no way trying to promote anything negative with his post, and had she never said a word, I doubt anyone eles would have noticed (especially since the term “thinspiration” and “thinspo” have been banned from social media sites since 2012)—again, Sarah uses some clever edits to show the image that comes up when you type those terms into the Instagram ‘search box’ , but I saw no such message.
Now, if Richman were an addiction counselor, or had once been diagnosed with an eating disorder, or was the spokesman for the ‘National Eating Disorder Foundation’, then maybe I could see Sarah’s point about his having a social responsibility to be more informed and more careful with his words. However, he’s none of those things. Instead, he’s just a guy, who once had an unhealthy love affair with food, who is now proud of his 80+ pound weight loss. Period. He meant nothing by there term, except to say, I am motivated by my progress…and I’m sharing that pride with you.
Again, I don’t have an issue with those people who are jumping on Richman for his behavior, it was deplorable. However, I think just as many fingers need to be pointing in the direction of Amber Sarah for her part in escalating the encounter via bullying tactics—did she really need to tell her friends to go to Richman’s site to offer their individual wrist slaps? Seriously, when I don’t like the content I see, I opt to unfollow or block the individual; it honestly makes me wonder if Sarah herself is still dealing with issues that Richman clearly has overcome.
In the end, Richman deserved to be called out for his reaction—it was both grotesque and uncalled for—but Ms. Amber Sarah needs to check her morality police at the door and shine a light on her actions as well. She’s hardly blameless in all of this, either.
In any event, she’s still enjoying her 15-minutes of fame, while Richman appears to be looking for another job.