"I was harsh and very insensitive. However, should you wish to hear my experience with weight loss, please call me,” Minister Fuad Khan said.
Doctor Fuad Khan, former Trinidadian Health Minister and parliamentarian, made an official apology to Candice Santana, a plus-sized masquerader in the 2019 Carnival celebrations, who he harshly accused of promoting of obesity in the Caribbean country and called a “tub” in a viral social media video.
Via social media, Khan wrote Wednesday, “I apologize to Miss Candice Santana for my insensitive remark of referring her to a ‘TUB.’ I was harsh and very insensitive and I apologize to all those I have offended with that name calling. Please forgive me Candice if I hurt you. However, should you wish to hear my experience with the weight loss, please call me.”
Last week, Santana shared her Carnival experience online, criticizing the reactions she received from fellow ‘Mas’ players and bystanders alike. Some complimented her costume, saying she was beautiful “for a plus size girl,” whereas some larger women told her “mas(querade) is not for we fat girls.”
“[The Lost Tribe] ran a campaign endorsing all sizes, shapes, and shades. This excited me on many levels because truth be told we are a body shaming society. Some do it consciously and directly while others may not even understand that they doing it,” she wrote.
However, almost immediately, the former minister took to Facebook, to accuse the performer of promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, telling her to “shut up” and stop “pulling the victim symptom.”
“We don't want no non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It's a strain on the health care […] heart attacks, diabetes, eye problems, foot problems, renal problems, respiratory problems because of the stupidness that you're promoting. It's not about fat-shaming and fat acceptance,” he said.
The ex-minister’s statement triggered criticism online, with officials and entertainment icons calling for an apology for the “vitriolic attack.”
The PNM Women’s League said they were “absolutely disturbed” by Khan’s “vitriolic attack” against the young woman, especially considering the timing- one day after International Women’s Day.
“Imagine a woman deemed a 'tub' and subjected publicly to a very unprofessional medical opinion by someone who should take his own advice. The League wonders if this is also a blatant sign of misogyny,” the group said.
Comedian Simmy De Trini, said, “The reason why weight loss supplements is a billion dollar global industry is because many women feel the need to conform to societal standards of beauty. Not health… Beauty.
“Our awareness of NCDs is not the issue. Our willingness to try is not the issue.
“The issue is people, like yourself, who refuse to see the contributions we can and do make to society all while battling against people who feel comfortable to treat us as second class citizens or casually insult or laugh at us without considering what steps we are taking to work with bodies that may have underlying medical complications that make weight loss difficult and weight gain easy,” De Trini said.
Santana responded to Khan's message via Facebook, saying, "As an office holder, Dr. Khan and all officials are held to a higher standard of operation so even when passionate about an issue, the use of disrespect, embarrassment and personal attack to a citizen should never happen.
"I am in no way endorsing an unhealthy lifestyle. I believe that we all need to be healthy. You need to have a balanced diet, you need to have regular exercise, etc. However, you do not know a person’s situation. You do not know if a person may be suffering from thyroid issues or maybe dealing with hormonal imbalance issues, etc. Even if a person is overweight and obese, it’s best to encourage them to lose weight in a sensible manner, respectfully, and of course, do it in a healthy way,” Santana said, gracefully declining the Khan's offer of weight-loss advice.