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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

September 27, 2011
by

I recently found out that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Wow! A month to honor fat kids! Way to go!!!

OOOPS!

Sorry. It’s a month devoted to ending childhood obesity. And the state of Georgia has a poster child. Or should I say poster children?

I suppose it pays to have clout. After all, if the First Lady of the United States wants to declare a month after her personal pet project, who am I to complain? If I were the First Lady, I may declare a month after something close to my heart as well. I just MAY declare MAY as: Everyone Loves Everyone Else No Matter What They Look Like Month!  (ELEENMWTLLM!).

Hmmm… that’s a bit unwieldy as an acronym. Let’s try something else. Respect Everyone’s Size Preference Even Corpulent Tubbies (R.E.S.P.E.C.T.)  or Respecting Every Shape Possible; End Crappy Television! Hey, I’m the First Lady, I can call it anything I want.

The mug shots that are being used in Georgia to publicize their anti-childhood obesity campaign are repulsive to me.  They stigmatize fat kids and do nothing to promote healthy lifestyle changes. If, in fact, the purpose of Georgia’s campaign and Ms. Obama’s anti-childhood obesity month is to help the children and improve their health, then where are all of the posters of the thin children who are living on diet soda and forcing themselves to vomit for fear of getting fat?  Because they “pass” as thin and are, therefore, assumed healthy, they are left alone, unscathed by public humiliation, and allowed to continue engaging in unhealthy lifestyles.

But the fact that thin kids are not targets of direct stigmatization doesn’t mean that they aren’t victims as well. Angela E. Lackey wrote an insightful and thought-provoking post about how her fear of being fat was partially caused by the abundance of fat-bashing stigmatization in our culture. She wasn’t teased or directly stigmatized for being fat, but it impacted her life immensely. Her eating disorder became severe enough for hospitalization. Who could blame her? Who would volunteer to be plastered all over billboards as the new face of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic?

Rant Mode… engage:

I don’t care how fat or thin a child is, no one deserves to be shamed. NO ONE! And if Georgia and Michelle really care about a cause that helps children, why don’t they forget about the childhood obesity awareness campaign and focus on a Healthy Children Become Healthy Adults Campaign?

Calmer now:

Couldn’t they just choose an all inclusive Health at Every Size® weight-neutral approach?  Then every month could be Healthy Living Month and everyone wins.

Here is a link if you would like to register your comment aka complaint re: the campaign:  http://www.obesityaction.org/childhoodobesitystigma.php

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. Fab@54 permalink
    September 27, 2011 10:45 am

    Sometimes I just find myself speechless with anger and disgust…. thankfully, there are people like YOU, who can still express that stuff for me. Thanks. I agree with you 1000%.

    I’m surprised they just didn’t use stock photos of headless fatties (kids) but I guess they want to show the sorrowful, helpless, depressed look on those poor kids’ faces… more emotional impact that way. Who would allow their kid to do that poster, anyway??

  2. Kala permalink
    September 27, 2011 10:47 am

    What a lousy billboard, I think the worst part are the little taglines for each kid, which I see to basically be excuses for ridicule.

    • Fab@54 permalink
      September 27, 2011 10:50 am

      Kala, I didn’t even notice what the captions were…. makes it all even worse.

      • Kala permalink
        September 27, 2011 12:16 pm

        Don’t you also like how all the kids look miserable. Because I guess you should give up on being happy unless you get thin.

      • October 3, 2011 9:40 pm

        I didn’t see the captions either, those where disgusting.

        • October 3, 2011 9:40 pm

          To be clear, the captions were disgusting, not the kids.

  3. September 27, 2011 11:24 am

    I just can’t imagine how those children in the photos and their families feel about them being the faces of this campaign. Ugh. Some may disagree with me here, but a part of me thinks that these people truly think that this kind of thing is helping and that it’s a good cause. I don’t think they woke up one day and said to themselves, “Let’s shame fat kids today and declare September as Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.” Of course this “cause” is so flawed for a number of reasons, and yes they are blaming and shaming fat kids, but I think they are ignorant to so much that is going on with this.

    • Karla permalink
      September 30, 2011 8:22 am

      Amen, Ashley! What a hateful world. Those poor kids, I pray for them anyway… Now, I’ll make time to pray for the idiots that slander these poor children, they are so fragile, yet, full grown adults are the ones to slam these children…. It’s terrible and sad…. thats all I can say. Disgusting!

  4. September 27, 2011 11:53 am

    What a disgusting campaign in Georgia. And what a disgusting national campaign from Obama. What about Childhood Health Month? Or Better School Lunches Month? Or, hell, how about Let’s Fund Our Damned Schools Month? Or Poverty Crushes Our Health and Our Spirits Month?

    Yet further evidence that these stupid health campaigns have less to do with health and more to do with the moral panic that drives all of this crap.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • September 29, 2011 8:10 am

      I like yours a lot better.
      I really lost any respect for Michelle Obama when I found out she had called her own daughters overweight. Now those lovely little girls are likely doomed to grow up with disordered thinking surrounding food.
      When Obama was elected, my now late father said “there’s something I don’t like about her.” He couldn’t put a finger on it, it was just a sense of something. Maybe there’s a sense of entitlement about her. I just find it interesting.

  5. vesta44 permalink
    September 27, 2011 2:13 pm

    I don’t remember who blogged about this, but these are the same pictures of the same kids who were used for this same kind of campaign either 6 months or a year ago (I remember the pictures of the kids and how outraged I was when I saw it then, but don’t remember exactly when it was). It was outrageous then and it’s outrageous now.

    • September 28, 2011 1:44 am

      I covered it a year ago but I don’t think I used these pics. It was a stupid, irresponsible and hurtful campaign then, just like it is now.

  6. September 27, 2011 8:07 pm

    Who can I write to or scream at? That is beyond all levels of appalling.

  7. September 28, 2011 9:11 am

    CC here is one place to have your comments heard:
    If you would like to voice your opinion on this campaign, the Obesity Action Coalition would like to hear from you. This national non-profit organization is dedicated to giving a voice to those affected by obesity.
    To view the billboards or place your vote on whether you think Georgia’s campaign is helpful or offensive, you can visit the following link: http://www.obesityaction.org/childhoodobesitystigma.php

    • Fab@54 permalink
      September 28, 2011 4:46 pm

      Done.

    • September 28, 2011 11:53 pm

      Thanks for the link. I replied and also tweeted it; that campaign is just mindbogglingly offensive.

    • sweet Priscilla permalink
      September 29, 2011 5:49 am

      done.

  8. September 28, 2011 11:14 am

    Well said! Thanks!

  9. September 28, 2011 2:49 pm

    Amen! As a communications executive I’m offended by this “mug shot” campaign. I would have expected more of something so highly promoted.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the Healthy Children Become Healthy Adults campaign idea!

    Didn’t someone teach these crazies that focusing on what you WANT instead of what you don’t want is a far better behavior modifier. Heck, that’s Parenting 101.

  10. September 29, 2011 9:02 am

    That’s EXACTLY what I’ve been shouting from rooftops lately! Kids should be taught about HEALTH not WEIGHT!

    Research shows that our society’s obsession with “Obesity” is actually causing kids to engage in dangerous behaviors in an effort to control their weight..this puts their lives at risk and sets them up for a lifetime of disordered eating …which can lead to OBESITY! So, basically..these insane Anti-Obesity campaigns are encouraging…OBESITY!

    Shame doesn’t help.

    Check out my poster campaign for body image awareness and kids:
    http://www.everythingmom.com/blogs/fitvsfiction/75/

  11. September 29, 2011 9:21 am

    The passion of your replies is fantastic AND the activist actions EVEN MORE fantastic. Ah…in Dr. Deah’s Hollywood, we have endless amounts of money to launch our own billboard campaign that focuses on health not weight, and acceptance not hatred. I saw a bumper sticker in Vermont last week, “Why should I change the way I look when I can change the way I see?” I was thinking, “Why should I change the way I look because you can’t change the way you see?”

  12. September 29, 2011 10:14 am

    The Georgia campaign pictures are @##% (I just can’t find a good word for them). I feel so sad that children would be stigmatized in any way. My hope is that Michelle Obama has good intentions but I know that for the past 50 years, good intentions have led to fat phobia and bullying to say the least. I agree that any change should start with acceptance, support and education. HAES would have been a perfect starting place. I fear that we continue as a society to feel we have not understood that making people feel bad doesn’t motivate change!

  13. September 29, 2011 10:23 am

    And in addition, Dr. Ross, at the risk of sounding conspiratorial…perhaps we should be following the money just a little bit. So much of these campaigns have funding from the deep pockets of industries that depend on people paying money to buy self-worth.
    It doesn’t work in the long run for the consumer, but it puts money in the pockets of those selling the illusion of the quick fix!

  14. September 30, 2011 10:06 am

    oh i am weary. thank you so much for exposing this. the let’s move campaign in itself seems an obnoxious, condescending message. i would like to promote the “let’s stop taking normal movement away from children who intuitively move with joy and abandon.” campaign (or movement). i’d also like to promote “let’s stop feeding garbage to all of our children and nourish their brains appropriately so that they can be spared many emotional, learning and behavioral related issues associated with poor nutrition that have implications larger than shaming obesity–while giving societal lip service to healthy eating”.

  15. September 30, 2011 10:20 am

    So true. I think I will put the link to http://www.obesityaction.org/childhoodobesitystigma.php
    into the actual blog and then ask everyone to tweet and retweet and perhaps we can generate a bit o buzz!

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