Trinidad’s former Health Minister standing by message in `fat shaming’ row

(Trinidad Guardian) For­mer Health Min­is­ter Dr Fuad Khan is stand­ing be­hind the mes­sage he com­mu­ni­cat­ed to plus-sized mas­quer­ad­er Can­dice San­tana on Fri­day when he called her out for be­ing obese and over­weight, as he again urged her to get fit and healthy.

While he is ready to apol­o­gise for the “harsh tone and some strong words” used dur­ing the two and a half minute long video he post­ed on so­cial me­dia on the is­sue, Khan yes­ter­day stood by the “the sub­stance of the state­ments.”

Dis­miss­ing claims his video was an at­tempt to fat-shame San­tana, Khan said he was more con­cerned about the grow­ing epi­dem­ic of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs) en­gulf­ing T&T.

“Many large women came out at Car­ni­val be­cause 70 per cent of Trinidad’s women are fat. The signs of over­weight on the road is a symp­tom of a greater dis­ease of obe­si­ty. Women should stop look­ing for ex­cus­es of be­ing thick, plus-size to hide obe­si­ty,” Khan said.

“Check your num­bers and your weight. Let us get fit for 2020.”

Can­dice San­tana in her Carnival costume

Asked if he was con­cerned his com­ments may cost him votes in the next gen­er­al elec­tion, Khan said, “I will not stand idle look­ing for votes, say­ing things of sweet­ness while the NCD epi­dem­ic grows, de­stroy­ing all in its path and be­ing swept un­der the car­pet by state­ments like fat ac­cep­tance and fat sham­ing.”

He added, “Those words are so hol­low, like all ah we is one and seg­re­ga­tion oc­curs all the time. I will not crawl on my bel­ly to ap­pease women on­ly to get their votes while they are over-eat­ing, over-drink­ing and not ex­er­cis­ing. Too much sug­ar and fats.”

Re­fer­ring to his time in of­fice when he took up the chal­lenge to re­duce NCDs, Khan said, “The chil­dren of our coun­try are al­ready on the road to obe­si­ty and ear­ly heart and kid­ney fail­ure.”

In his video, Khan said, “As a for­mer Min­is­ter of Health, I am ex­treme­ly con­cerned about the Di­a­bet­ic Type 2 dis­eases and al­so the high cho­les­terol in our young peo­ple be­cause of obe­si­ty and over­weight, so when you come on and start to speak about fat sham­ing in so­ci­ety…just shut up be­cause it is not a fat-sham­ing so­ci­ety if you have big aprons around your waist…your arms are hang­ing and all that type of thing. That is obe­si­ty….that is a dis­ease.”

Yes­ter­day, Khan said he in­tends to con­tin­ue his per­son­al quest for fit­ness and healthy liv­ing as he de­clared him­self to be the “obe­si­ty ter­mi­na­tor.”

San­tana ap­peared on CNC3’s Morn­ing Brew on Fri­day and spoke about body pos­i­tiv­i­ty and the cul­ture of fat sham­ing in T&T, as she re­called her ex­pe­ri­ence on the road for Car­ni­val Tues­day and the com­ments which had come af­ter she post­ed pic­tures of her­self in cos­tume on­line. De­tail­ing en­coun­ters she had ex­pe­ri­enced with mas­quer­aders and spec­ta­tors alike and how their com­ments af­fect­ed her, San­tana’s up­beat at­ti­tude and sense of con­fi­dence res­onat­ed with view­ers, who took to so­cial me­dia to en­cour­age her to stand up for plus-sized women.

Al­though Khan deroga­to­ri­ly re­ferred to San­tana as a “tub” in the video, she yes­ter­day said she held no ill-will or mal­ice to­wards Khan. She wrote on her Face­Book page, “My re­ac­tion, I watched that video, for­gave him for the harsh words dished out at me. I look my­self in the mir­ror and re­mind my­self that I am beau­ti­ful in­side and out­side. I al­so re­mind my­self that this is an op­por­tu­ni­ty to show love and not get caught up in any neg­a­tiv­i­ty.”

San­tana en­cour­aged oth­ers to pur­sue a healthy lifestyle and en­sure they had a bal­anced di­et cou­pled with ex­er­cise as part of their dai­ly reg­i­men.


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