BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota has jumped on the get-points-by-shaming-fatties bandwagon. They have created a series of ads that shame fat parents of fat kids by asserting that they are walking, talking stereotypes.
One of the ads shows two kids bragging about how much their dads can eat, and trying to one-up each other. A dad walks up, overhears and looks, with extreme guilt, at the tray of burgers fries and drinks. Right – “My dad can eat more than your dad!” said no kid ever. Another shows a fat mom putting junk food into her cart and then she looks back and sees her daughter putting the same junk food in her tiny cart.
There’s no news on who should be shamed if thin parents have fat kids or if fat parents have thin kids – maybe it’s just more fun for BCBS to shame two fat people at a time. Plus you gotta love the reinforcement of a prejudicial stereotype – there are no ads where thin parents who feed their thin kids fast food get shamed even though that happens everyday, because everybody (especially a health insurance company) knows that you can look at people fully clothed and know everything about their eating and exercise habits and health. (Sarcasm level is a 10 out of 10)
Also, there’s research that shows that you just can’t shame people healthy. Rebecca Puhl’s research out of Yale found that:
People feel much more motivated and empowered to make healthy lifestyle changes when campaign messages are supportive and encourage specific health behaviors. But when campaign messages communicate shame or blame or stigma, people report much less motivation, and lower intentions to improve their health behaviors.
Hey, look over there – it’s a big flaming sack of duh! Marc Manley, the vice president and chief prevention officer of BCBS Minnesota and one of the architects of the campaign responded “Just because people like an ad doesn’t mean it moves them to action” There are only two reasons I can imagine that he thought this was a valid response - he is a moron with low reading/listening comprehension or he just forgot to eat his bowl of No Shit Sherlock Flakes that morning. In case he reads this blog I’ll break it down into words I hope he’ll find himself able to comprehend: shame bad. Surely he must not understand the information because someone who cares about health – when presented with evidence that their intervention is likely to have the exact opposite effect of what they were looking for = will not react with vaguely tangential platitudes.
But it gets better – when pressed further Manley took a page from Children’s Healthcare for Atlanta when they were roundly criticized for a campaign that purported to shame fat kids healthy: When you’re caught doing something that is likely to have the exact opposite of its intended effect, which you should have known if you had done even the most basic research, just say your goal was to “Start a Dialog.” Move the goal post and declare victory – nobody will even notice and you’ll get points for “bravely talking about” something that nobody in the entire world can shut the hell up about for five minutes.
Let me make this clear: the dialog is already happening, the dialog is a massive problem already – fat people are shamed about their bodies 386,170 times a year. If you think that that your 386,171st shaming is what someone was waiting for to really hate themselves healthy then you are too stupid to be a vice president and chief prevention officer of anything ever. Seriously, you’ve done enough – way the hell more than enough – go sit down now, nobody needs your intervention or your dialog.
If you have thoughts you’d like to share with the good people at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, you can contact them at
firstname.lastname@example.org or Toll-free at 1-800-760-0052
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