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Shaming Our Children: Georgia's Anti-Obesity Ads

Pauline Campos's picture

body image shame

This is the fourth time I’ve started this column over in an attempt to keep my objective voice out and leave the subjective to speak for itself. It’s not working very well.

I’ll start with the facts: A controversial ad campaign sponsored by the Strong4Life campaign and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is pointing the finger of fat shame directly at our children and getting plenty of tongues wagging. “Warning: It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not” reads one message under the photo of a chubby girl. Her eyes, just like the eyes of the other children featured in the ads, are accusatory. More text included in the campaign reads "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid" and "My fat may be funny to you, but it’s killing me.”

ABC News has reported that the ads are the health organization’s answer to a survey of two Georgia towns. It was discovered that 75 percent of parents with obese children were not aware that their children were overweight to begin with and 50 percent of the parents didn’t realize that obesity was a problem. The fact that Georgia rates second in the nation for childhood obesity rates is also troubling, to say the least.

But what is even more troubling is the fact that this whole campaign was given the green light to begin with. Why is it deemed acceptable to shame our children over circumstances beyond their control? How can we expect parents to make healthier choices for our children when Phys-ed classes and recess are disappearing, pizza is being called a vegetable, and the contents of many grocery carts are determined by what can be afforded that week and not what’s on the label?

childhood obesity

The ad campaign is striving to get Georgia to “stop sugar coating” the issues surrounding childhood obesity and is accomplishing that at the expense of our children and their sense of self-worth by reinforcing our cultural obsession with focusing on the scale instead of our health. Shame is something these children are already familiar with. They deal with it on the playground, when they go clothes shopping, and when they hide away from the world stuffing their feelings down with even more food. I’ve been there, Georgia. I am still there, and am working every day to feel good about what I see in the mirror and ensure that my daughter grows up with a positive body image. Shame only fosters more shame. And shame on you, Georgia, for thinking any differently.

What do you think? Do you believe the ad campaign will have lasting effects on our children? And will the results be negative or positive?

Pauline is the founder of Girl Body Pride & blogs at Aspiring Mama. Find her at about.me/paulinecampos

Comments

Laurie's picture

Seriously Shameful !

That's really shameful making kids of some feel shame of their obesity instead of getting some motivation to help them fight obesity.

Maya-Lin Green's picture

Shame on the Government

Hello?? Personal responsibility only goes so far. How about reconstructing our school lunch programs to provide organic/plant based meals? How about educating our parents and children of the importance of raw fruits and vegetables? Last time I watched the tube I could count on 3 sets of hands the number of commercials I saw for chips, pizza and soda pop. Why aren't we advertising fresh fruit and veggies as the next "cool snack" to try? Why can I get a "meal" for under 3 dollars yet 3 dollars of organic fruit is unheard of? Its true that we need to educate our children. Nutrition talks, love, and images of positive (not supermodel) body images can do wonders, but the problem won't be truly fixed until our government puts the focus on its people and off of profit! Shaming our children is a gutless plot to take the blame off of those who really deserve it: the FDA (two words- food pyramid), meat and dairy industry (in bed with the FDA) welfare (why can I buy cheetos with a EBT card?!) and the people supposedly running things that allow that that promote the over consumption of fat, meat, and dairy to deepen their pockets.

Maya-Lin Green's picture

Shame on the Government

Hello?? Personal responsibility only goes so far. How about reconstructing our school lunch programs to provide organic/plant based meals? How about educating our parents and children of the importance of raw fruits and vegetables? Last time I watched the tube I could count on 3 sets of hands the number of commercials I saw for chips, pizza and soda pop. Why aren't we advertising fresh fruit and veggies as the next "cool snack" to try? Why can I get a "meal" for under 3 dollars yet 3 dollars of organic fruit is unheard of? Its true that we need to educate our children. Nutrition talks, love, and images of positive (not supermodel) body images can do wonders, but the problem won't be truly fixed until our government puts the focus on its people and off of profit! Shaming our children is a gutless plot to take the blame off of those who really deserve it: the FDA (two words- food pyramid), meat and dairy industry (in bed with the FDA) welfare (why can I buy cheetos with a EBT card?!) and the people supposedly running things that allow that that promote the over consumption of fat, meat, and dairy to deepen their pockets.

Maya-Lin Green's picture

Shame on the Government

Hello?? Personal responsibility only goes so far. How about reconstructing our school lunch programs to provide organic/plant based meals? How about educating our parents and children of the importance of raw fruits and vegetables? Last time I watched the tube I could count on 3 sets of hands the number of commercials I saw for chips, pizza and soda pop. Why aren't we advertising fresh fruit and veggies as the next "cool snack" to try? Why can I get a "meal" for under 3 dollars yet 3 dollars of organic fruit is unheard of? Its true that we need to educate our children. Nutrition talks, love, and images of positive (not supermodel) body images can do wonders, but the problem won't be truly fixed until our government puts the focus on its people and off of profit! Shaming our children is a gutless plot to take the blame off of those who really deserve it: the FDA (two words- food pyramid), meat and dairy industry (in bed with the FDA) welfare (why can I buy cheetos with a EBT card?!) and the people supposedly running things that allow that that promote the over consumption of fat, meat, and dairy to deepen their pockets.

Maya-Lin Green's picture

Shame on the Government

Hello?? Personal responsibility only goes so far. How about reconstructing our school lunch programs to provide organic/plant based meals? How about educating our parents and children of the importance of raw fruits and vegetables? Last time I watched the tube I could count on 3 sets of hands the number of commercials I saw for chips, pizza and soda pop. Why aren't we advertising fresh fruit and veggies as the next "cool snack" to try? Why can I get a "meal" for under 3 dollars yet 3 dollars of organic fruit is unheard of? Its true that we need to educate our children. Nutrition talks, love, and images of positive (not supermodel) body images can do wonders, but the problem won't be truly fixed until our government puts the focus on its people and off of profit! Shaming our children is a gutless plot to take the blame off of those who really deserve it: the FDA (two words- food pyramid), meat and dairy industry (in bed with the FDA) welfare (why can I buy cheetos with a EBT card?!) and the people supposedly running things that allow that that promote the over consumption of fat, meat, and dairy to deepen their pockets.

H.C. Palmquist's picture

Absolutely shameful!

Let's do an experiment. We'll take all the people who created these ads, put them on display in public and have them ridiculed for physical appearance day and night. Should take less than a week to achieve maximum breakdown.

monstergirlee's picture

This is not tough love, this is bullying.

The thing is, it's not all junk food and sugar.
My husband, son, and I are all tall & thin. My daughter is average height, and tending towards being heavy. We all live in the same house, we all eat the same food. We try to be active and busy, limit TV, severely limit sweet snacks, I cook almost all of our food from scratch. but she has a different body type. I will not let anyone shame her for who she is, a sweet funny loving quirky wonderful little girl who I would not trade for anyone.
Shaming those kids, and shaming her, is shameful.

Bethany's picture

I'm appalled!

I weighed 101 pounds in the sixth grade. I was embarrassed beyond belief. These ads may be targeted at adults and trying to make us feel badly enough to pay attention but you are exactly right...it doesn't target the REAL problems. As a child, if I had seen these ads, I would have found every way to make it all my fault. That's what children do. And I would have eaten more to make myself feel better. That's what PEOPLE do.

Shelley (@momma_oz)'s picture

WOW...

I'm truly incensed by this entire ad campaign... WHO thought this was a good idea in the first place? WHEN did blame ever solve anything?

Is obesity a problem? OF COURSE - but is this going to solve it? No way...

These poor kids... I can not-so-fondly recall my high school drill team director telling me in no uncertain terms that I was "too fat to dance"... and thus began my disordered eating patterns that I still struggle with today. I also remember that kids were mean enough growing up... do we REALLY need adults ganging up on kids too?

Perhaps most unsettling of all - WHERE are these kids parents? I can't speak for everyone, but when I became a mom, my JOB was to PROTECT and LOVE my offspring. At all cost! What I see in those ads above is neither. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the accusatory gaze depicted in the above ads is actually directed at the parent who put them in this position. So Sad.

Shelley (@momma_oz)'s picture

Where to start

I'm incensed by these ads... WHO thinks this is a good idea in the first place? When did BLAME ever solve anything? and WHY are we attacking these poor kids?

Is obesity a problem - of course and one I struggle with. I remember as a teen being told by my Drill Team Director that I was too fat to dance and truth? That sparked my eating disorder that I still battle.

Perhaps more troubling - who are the parents that ALLOWED their children to be included in these horrific ads? Maybe I'm wrong but part of the job description as a mom is to PROTECT my children at all costs and to LOVE them unconditionally. I see neither love or protection here and it makes me sad. I wonder if the accusatory gazes are really directed at their parents for putting them in this spot to begin with.

So wrong on SOOOOOOOOOOOOOo many levels.

Alexandra's picture

Georgia obesity campaign

I'll tell you what, this is the second time I'e read of this today. I know the intent is there: but people will not change what they do based on these ads.

It'll take an MD grabbing the parents by the shoulder and saying, "what are you doing to your kid?" And then they need to see a nutritionist, many parents do not understand what low fat/high fiber/exercise means.

Angie's picture

Disgusting.

Why not focus more on education and less on pointing the finger of blame? And if you have to blame someone, why does it have to be these kids? It's a parent's responsibility to ensure their children are healthy, and part of that is teaching them to eat right and stay active. It's not the kid's fault for being overweight. The whole ad campaign is just sickening.

Jenn Greenleaf's picture

Yes!

You articulated my thoughts on this so much better than I did. It's a terrible, terrible thing they've done here. Using "shock tactics" is not the best practice. Education is . ..

Jenn Greenleaf's picture

I have a problem with these ads...

I think it makes more sense to show pictures of parents cooking at the stove, or setting the table with the wrong goods than to blame the children in this way. Why does it have to be portrayed as their fault? The verbiage should portray what the children are served by their parents - which who are, ultimately responsible for teaching children how to eat healthy and all that. I'm sorry if I'm talking in circles and not making a clear point here - I'm just really upset.

Jenn Burton's picture

This really makes me sick to

This really makes me sick to my stomach. This is heartbreaking. As a woman who grew up with this shaming from my parents I can't even begin to imagine how much more these children will have to disconnect from there bodies in order to somehow cope. I am beyond words.

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