In Georgia, there’s a new campaign by a foundation called ‘Strong4Life’ to eradicate childhood obesity. This tough-love approach has the tagline ‘stop sugarcoating the problem.’
The problem? Instead of focusing on the cause, they’re focusing on the symptoms.
This campaign features black and white pictures of stone-faced fat children with captions such as ‘it’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not’ and ‘big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did.’ It comes complete with videos such as this one. Pure and simple, it’s a campaign of fear.
Apparently the purpose of these ads is to ‘wake up’ the parents of overweight children and make them realize what they’re doing to their children.
Carolina Cruxent, Director of Wellness Marketing at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said “These ads are intended to raise awareness of this health crisis among parents and caregivers so that we may all come together to work toward a solution.”
That’s all well in good (actually, no it’s not), but these ads are on billboards. They’re on TV. They’re on radio. Children see them too. Let’s face it, fat children already have delicate self-esteems and endure near-constant bullying for the way that they look. But now they’re seeing people who look like them thrown up on billboards or on the TV in a dark, dreary manner. Insinuating that their bodies are wrong. Insinuating that they’re not good. That they don’t deserve happiness.
What nine year old deserves that?
It’s been proven that families who focus on food restriction and dieting are more likely to have children who are over-aware of food. This leads to eating disorders, weight-cycling, and a constant feeling of shame.
All I can think of is how much money this campaign must have cost. Money that could have, and SHOULD have instead been spent on playgrounds, accessible health care, better and more healthy food for schools, etc.
Because the problem isn’t the obesity. Obesity is the bogeyman. We are more sedentary, absolutely. But THAT’S what needs to change. Not the weight. Kids don’t play outside anymore. They sit inside and play xbox or on the computer. They play sports on their wii instead of with the kids in their neighborhood. And yes, we as a nation are eating too much fast food. But nobody seems to care that that seems to be because eating healthy keeps getting more expensive, and parents have less time to cook healthful meals in an economy where they have to work more just to make ends meet. To assume that it’s the parents faults, that the parents don’t care, is just so wrong.
No one needs to ‘stop sugarcoating’ anything. No one needs to ‘wake up’ to anything. Fat people of all ages are reminded that they’re fat, and that it’s ‘unhealthy’ and ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ every single day. Ad campaigns like this do nothing but promote shame, hate, and intolerance. It’s so disheartening.
It’s so upsetting that I can’t even write anymore about it. But here are some awesome blog posts from people I respect that express my feelings far better than I could!
- It’s Hard to be a Little Girl When You’re Bullied
- What’s wrong with Georgia’s Childhood Obesity Campaign
- Hammer Time
- Georgia, Disney, and the Wave on My Mind
In closing, unless we speak up, nothing is going to change. So here are some things you can do if you feel as strongly about this campaign as I do.
A petition was started that I encourage you to sign.
Here’s the contact info for the people who are in charge of this campaign. Call, email, write. EVERY day.
Kevin McClelland (PR)
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Stephanie Walsh (medical director)
1687 Tullie Circle NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Have at it, kids!