The Billboards Are Going Up Today!

When I first had the idea to put up billboards in response to the Strong4Life campaign of shame and weight bullying, people said that it was impossible.  They were wrong:

Thousands of people helped get the word out about the campaign  (Thanks everybody!)

1010 people donated their own money to the cause (Thanks to every donor!)

A corporate donor supported us with a $5,000 matching  donation (Thanks More of Me to Love)

$21,720.20 was raised (holy cow!)

6 billboards and 10 bus shelter signs are going up all over Atlanta today. (Thanks to Allan from Adout, Inc. for negotiating on our behalf and helping us through the billboard project)

The original goals of this campaign were to:

  1. Show Atlanta kids of all sizes that they are valued and respected and try to undo some of the damage of the Strong4Life campaign
  2. Assert that we can support the development of healthy habits in kids of all sizes (including a focus on providing access to healthy food and movement options that are culturally appropriate and that kids enjoy) without shaming or stigmatizing any kids at all
  3. Educate people about why shaming kids is bad for their health and about the Health at Every Size option

I feel like we are on our way to accomplishing those goals with the billboards, bus shelter ads, and the new website.  All of the pieces link to www.SupportAllKids.com  This website, beautifully designed by Sabrina Wilson of ThoughtBoxMarketing, includes the final version of the billboard, the 10 bus shelter ads, and information intended to help start authentic dialog and support people in learning more about Health at Every Size, Size Acceptance, and Fat Civil Rights.

If you’ve ever done a project of this magnitude, then you know that they attract criticism.  Some, and possibly all, of that criticism will be absolutely valid.  One of the things that makes doing big projects with this many moving parts scary (and one of the reasons that people tell me keeps them from doing this kind of work) is that you know you are going to screw things up, you know that people will point it out, and you don’t know if they will give you the benefit of the doubt.

Any mistakes made on this project are my own and I take full responsibility and apologize.  I am already aware that, in retrospect, I absolutely could have done a better job of reaching out to communities including people of color, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and anyone else who may not feel that Fat Activism is welcoming to them or addressing the issues that are specific to their community.  I deeply apologize for that, and it’s something that I will continue to work on and improve. I learned a lot from this project and part of that is that I still have a lot to learn.

I think it’s important to continuously strive to be better activists, and I also think it’s important to celebrate our victories, and this project is a victory – More than 1,000 people got together and got something done.  Something massive.  Something that people said was impossible.  Thanks so much to everyone involved.  Congratulations and here’s to bigger and better things in the future!

This blog is supported by its readers rather than corporate ads.  If you get value out of the blog, can afford it, and want to support my work and activism, please consider a paid subscription or a one-time contribution.  The regular e-mail subscription (available at the top right hand side of this page) is still completely free.   Thanks for reading! ~Ragen

Published in: on March 26, 2012 at 6:10 am  Comments (34)  

34 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What an incredible achievement! Congratulations Regan.

    I was sad to see that the “putting me down will not make me strong” message had been lost somewhere along the line, though. I thought that a clear criticism of the Strong4Life campaign was in order, although it shouldn’t necessarily be the only message. Pro-HAES is important too.

    • Hi Deeleigh,

      Thanks, I hear what you’re saying. To give you some background, the final decisions were made by a creative team that included the original billboard designer. The message was changed because CHOA is taking down their billboards and there were concerns that people wouldn’t get the reference, so they wouldn’t understand that it was a criticism of CHOA and subsequently wouldn’t understand that the billboard was addressing weight bullying specifically, and might completely miss the point. We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to address weight bullying in order to criticize one organization. On the website, we do criticize them directly with enough words and evidence to have a lot of clarity. Hope that makes sense.

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

      • Oh, okay. That makes sense. Thanks so much for the backstory on it – that message was what I liked about the winning design but I can see how, without the original billboards, a lot of people would miss the boat on it.

        • Cool, thanks for understanding :)

          ~Ragen

          ________________________________

  2. Incredible. Beautiful. Inspiring. Well done and thankyou.

  3. Congratulations! What a huge achievement. Seriously inspiring stuff.

  4. Thank goodness for the project. Now people can see that we do not remain silent in the face of criticism and anti-fat bigotry (even if it is supposedly well-meaning).

    And thank you..

  5. Congratulations Ragen. Well done!

  6. You have changed the world my dear. congratulations :)

  7. BRAVA!!! You get ALL the Diva Points today.

  8. Fabulous! Great job!

  9. Did you or your blog receive any of the $21000 raised, Ragen? Just in interest of full disclosure.

    • Lula, absolutely not. 100% of the funds raised went to the project. As soon as I have all the documentation I’ll be posting the full financial information on the site. Thanks for asking.

      ~Ragen

  10. Thank you for taking the lead on this, Ragen. You (rightly) make the point that over 1,000 heeded your call to action. Given that it took mere days to meet the goal, that’s a really impressive number.

    That said, it could also be flipped on its head. A mere 1,010 people are making a difference. They are reaching out to a population nearing half a million. If only 10% agree with the campaign, each of us has affected 50 others. With a groundswell like that, given time, we could make a real difference.

    I also note that due to Fat Activism (once again, thanks for spearheading), Planned Parenthood removed a reference to obesity from it “social ills that need to be addressed” list in Alaska.

    We may be the thin end of the wedge (pardon the irony), but we appear to be finding chinks that can be widened. It gives me some hope.

  11. Great job!

  12. Congrats on the project and on all the press!

  13. Awesome1 So good to hear this! :)

  14. Awesome! So good to hear this! :)

  15. Congratulations!

    And thank you for at least acknowledging the criticisms of this campaign. I hope you do better on this next time. Maybe a good start on that would be to make a separate post about the critique, to open dialogue here on your site?

    • Agreed. While I definitely support the project and am happy for the success, the recent controveries I’ve been reading surrounding NOLOSE and the responses to it have made me very uneasy.

  16. Sincere congratulations, and thank you so very much for all your hard work in making this happen.

  17. One of the best donations I’ve ever made. Most of the time, since I can’t afford to donate much or often. I feel like I’m not really making a difference as there seems to be a push to get more money out of people constantly, here I can actually see my donation making a difference and it is empowering.

    • I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support on this and I’m extremely glad that you are happy with the results :)

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  18. You took the idea and ran with it. You are awesome. Thank you for following through on this. One of the best donations I ever made.

    I hope someone in GA gets out their digital camera soon and sends you a picture of our billboards in action! I can’t wait to see it posted here.

    Seriously awesome.

  19. I’m boogieing in the freaking streets over this!

    Isn’t it amazing what ‘powerless’ people can do when they band together for a cause?

  20. Awesome! I am glad I could support this project. As for being made to feel like you messed up anything. That’s ridiculus.

  21. wow. That’s my first time seeing the anti-fat billboards. Really, they’re worse than I would have imagined.

  22. I think you did a wonderful job. We can all always improve upon our past work. Knowing what could have been done better helps with any future campaigns. Have no regrets!

  23. I think no apologies are necessary. You did something AWESOME, a first for this movement — a public statement that we do not accept people telling us our bodies are bad and wrong. Can this movement learn from the experience and do an even better job next time? Sure! But someone had to be first and it was you and you ROCK.

  24. This is a major step forward for the size acceptance movement, and I think no apologies are necessary. Can we do a better job next time? Absolutely. But someone had to go first, and you did, and you ROCK.

  25. Fan-frickin-tabulous!!!! <3 :D
    I hope people take lots of pics of these billboards so we can see!!

  26. Congratulations! It’s great that you got this to happen.

  27. This was truly amazing and a testament to believing and sticking to your guns even when others say something is impossible. You are AMAZING!

    oxox
    Jeanette

  28. Great job, thank you for all of your hard work and energy. Take good care of yourself too ; )


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