Trinidad: Former health minister accused of fat-shaming masquerader Candice Santana

Trinidad: Former health minister accused of fat-shaming masquerader Candice Santana
Candice Santana
Candice Santana

(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has cause a furore on social media after calling out and attempting to publicly shame masquerader Candice Santana who recently spoke about her experience during the Carnival as a plus-sized individual.

Santana, who was featured on the local news interview as a plus sized mas player spoke about body positivity and spoke about the culture of fat shaming in Trinidad and Tobago.

She encourage others to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

However, in a video posted on social media Khan told Santana that victimization and fat shaming were not the issues.

Dr Fuad Khan

Instead, is said the issue was about unhealthy obesity and overweight children suffering with non-communicable diseases.

Khan referred to Santana as a “tub” and called on her to lose the weight.

Here’s what Khan said in the recording:

“Hi Candace Santana. Victimization and calling about fat shaming was not the issue. The issue is do we want our children to suffer from non-communicable diseases as they get older. Right now almost 60 per cent of the population is obese and they are going to suffer with non-communicable diseases as they get older because of the disease of obesity. So when you pull the victim syndrome about fat-shaming and fat-acceptance is not so.

As a former Minister of Health I am extremely concerned about the diabetic, type 2 diseases and also cholesterol in our young people because of obesity and over-weight. So when you come on and start to speak about fat-shaming in society, just shut-up.

Because it is not about fat-shaming society if you have big aprons around your waist, your arms are hanging and all that type of thing. That is obesity.

I don’t want my children of my country to suffer issues of obesity because people like you try to pull the victim shaming. That’s not victim shaming that’s the reality that you all are too fat and you are forcing the fatness on the children of Trinidad and Tobago and the world. Because of the junk you eating, no self-control, exercise is minimal and you just use words like victimization, fat-shaming and fat society.

Shut-up and lose the weight or you will suffer from serious non-communicable diseases as you get older. I am an advocate for breaking down the non-communicable diseases, especially in children. If you want to do yourself that stupidness then go ahead, walk around the place like a tub. But don’t let my children in Trinidad and Tobago, none of them end up like tubs like you. We don’t want no non-communicable diseases, it’s a strain on the health care and have short lives for them.”

Social media was in an uproar after the video circulated. Many criticised Khan for his statements, some agreed with him and others tried to be balance in their manner of addressing the issue.

Some said Khan was too hard in his statements saying that as a doctor and a former Minister he should have been mindful on how he addressed the topic.

“How dare someone who is supposed to be a professional speak to people in that manner and you wonder how our country is going down this road, no kind of respect at all. The ex-minister of health should know better, speak about depression and how by his words some people who are over-weight may thing less of themselves,” said one person.

One person who agreed with Khan’s statement wrote: “say what you want and even though Fuad Khan is not in the best shape himself, ironic isn’t it? But he is right. That woman is obese, unhealthy and it does not look good at all. Only reason people are protecting her is because she is a woman. I never heard anyone say an obese man is handsome, health or fit. I never heard someone say a fat man look good. Let’s call it for what it is, that lady needs to go on a diet.”

Reaction to Khan’s comments have been swift and diverse.

One person said: “Oh dear. Mr Fuad, this is your contribution to a problem that you claim to have identified as a former minister of health? Our country is plagued with fast food outlets of every possible kind of food. Instead of attacking this poor woman, why don’t you go after the one per cent who own these establishments, and who continue to make millions of dollars by fattening our public. Incidentally, you refuse to acknowledge that people such as yourself choose to humiliate and shame women who walk around with a little extra weight. Just the kind of attitude we want to foster in our young men. You should be the one to sit down and shut up.”

Santana, who viewed the recording responded to it by saying that she forgave Khan for what he said.

On social media, Santana stated: “Episode 5 – A person “drags” me on his page and tell me shut up about “fat shaming” and shut up and lose some weight.

I recall that I spoke about body shaming regardless of size, shape or shade. I also recall that I said that I am not endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle, however I encouraged everyone to switch towards a healthy lifestyle including a balance diet and exercise but maybe he didn’t look at the entire interview or he missed that part. I even indicated that I made changes to my lifestyle.

My reaction, I watched that video, forgive 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.

I now go back to my Friday night walk where I plug my earphones in, continue to pray and reflect on the last 48 hours and what I can do to effect positive change, spread a message of love for God, for self and mankind.

I also continue to celebrate International Women’s Day with all the wonderful women of Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the world.”


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