By now you may have heard that the children in the Strong4Life child shaming campaign who talk about being sick and teased because of their weight are actually healthy, confident kids who happen to be large. Recently another ad campaign showed a headless fat man with his leg amputated with pictures of crutches and soda, claiming that large fast food portions can lead to Type 2 diabetes which can lead to leg amputation. Not only does the photograph’s subject have a head, he also has both legs. What he doesn’t have is diabetes.
Some are asking “So what? They are actors. Actors pretend”. The problem here is that the entire reason that these pictures are used is so that people identify with them and become fearful. “I look like the man in the picture and I drink soda. I’m going to have to have my leg amputated!” “My kid looks like the girl in that commercial, she’s going to get diabetes!” Kids are meant to look at those pictures and be scared that looking like that means that they have diseases. I think that we need to be very careful about instilling a fear of being fat into kids considering that hospitalizations for eating disorders in kids under 12 are up 119% over the last decade. So these ads shame, stigmatize, and humiliate those who look like the people in the ads, and instill a fear of being fat in those who don’t. Would those people feel differently about the ads, or about themselves if the ads told the truth “This is a healthy, happy, outgoing child who is fat” or “This is a successful, happy, healthy man who is fat”? But there is something more insidious…
These ads send the disingenuous message to society that those of us who look like the people in the ads are sick, or going to get sick, that when we do it will be our fault, and that the way to prevent this is to shame us publicly for our perceived behaviors. Then comes the ridiculous “won’t somebody think of my tax dollars” argument and we’re off to the races as the food police don their badges and head out. People are encouraged to see a fatty drinking a soda, assume that we drink gallons of soda every day, and that they are going to have to pay for a leg amputation, and that this somehow makes it their business, and acceptable to “educate” us via confrontation. Because surely the best way to make people healthy is to shame, stigmatize and humiliate them at every possible opportunity.
Obviously the bottom line is that it’s not anybody else’s business what we do and that, at least in the US, your tax dollars go to pay for a plethora of things and unless you have a list of all of them divided into things that you are okpaying for and things about which you are currently engaged in an active campaign against, then you don’t even get to start this conversation with me.
But let’s be honest, they are using using healthy people to create shame, fear, and stigma around health problems those people do not have. That’s questionable at best. Just like diet ads have to say “Results not typical” every single time they suggest that their product might work, these ads should have to have a disclaimer “actor is healthy, successful and happy at their current size”.
Very Exciting Billboard Update!!!!
Get ready for the More of Me to Love Match. The awesome folks over at MOMTL (www.moreofmetolove.com) are supporting the billboard project with a matching donation in the amount of $5,000! That means we only have to raise $5,000 more to put up the first size positive billboard in Atlanta! In order to qualify for the grant we just need to raise $5,000, and get 1,000 individual donors (there’s no minimum donation so every little bit really does help). The amazing Marilyn Wann has graciously offered to send autographed copies of the Fat!So? Dayplanner to the first 10 people who donate $50-99, and autographed Fat!So? books to the first 10 people who donate $100 or more.
The Big Fat Money Bomb, which is our fundraising kickoff, is Thursday. You can find out all of the information here. If you want a reminder on Thursday just send me an e-mail at ragen at danceswithfat dot org and I’ll put you on the list.
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