• Tue, Jan 3 2012

Are These Ads Picking On Obese Children?

Georgia is running a set of ads targeting childhood obesity, like this one, where a girl notes that going to school, all the other kids pick on her. When I first saw it I thought “oh, an ad to raise awareness about bullying! Yeah, that makes sense.”

Then the ad explained to me that “being fat takes the fun out of being a kid.” Because… if you are overweight other children are contractually obligated to torment you? That seems like the kind of thinking that will lead to a lot of kids deciding that being bullied is their fault because they’re fat and they deserve it. Maybe”skinny kids, don’t be such assholes” would be a better public service message? By all means, be a healthy weight – or encourage your children to be a healthy weight – because it will prevent health problems (see how healthy fits in there?), but don’t do it because if you don’t no one will like you. That’s crazy thinking. In conclusion, I’m not worried so much about Georgia “sugarcoating it” as I am about them “flavoring everything with a Tabasco sauce called self-loathing lunacy.”

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  • Jenny

    Thank you! I live in Georgia and my coworkers and I were just talking about how horrible these ads are. There are billboards plastered all over the highways with sayings like “it’s hard to be a little girl, if you’re not”.

    The worst part for me is imagining the photo shoots. Some ad agency offered the parents of an overweight child the opportunity to exploit them and forever immortalize her humiliation. I’d bet the money isn’t going in to a college fund considering if your young child is obese then you are probably not the most conscientious parent.

    • Kj

      “It’s hard to be a little girl, if you’re not.” Wow, what a horrible thing to say! Me & my sister have always been big boned (as in, the tallest girls in the class, maybe a little hefty but still healthy) and not “little” in any respect – I would have been peeved to read that!

  • Jessica

    While I agree that these are not the nicest ads around, it is calling attention to a serious issue. Yes, it is a horrible thing to say, but it is also horrible for parents to not take control of their children’s eating habits and activities, and leading them to a lifetime of health issues.

    People need to not focus on how ‘horrible’ these ads are, and instead focus on childhood obesity, heart disease and a plethora of other health issues.

    For the reader KJ above me, if you were “a little hefty but still healthy”, then good for you, the ad would not have applied to you.

    But if you would have been peeved to read that, then you are obviously lying to yourself of how big you really were. The ad is not advertising for people to be “little”, it’s advertising for people to be healthy and normal weight.

    • Jenny

      I think you are missing the point. I don’t think any of us would tell you childhood obesity isn’t a problem. It is — it is a huge problem. In large part I do blame the parents for being irresponsible.

      However, shaming children and parents into being more healthy by pointing out how unpopular being fat is is not the answer.

      We should encourage people to be healthy for health’s sake. Not thin for thin’s sake. Thin can be unhealthy. Bullying obese children in to hating their bodies won’t solve anything.