Georgia’s cruel weight loss ads bully children

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has produced a series of ads supposedly with the intention of curbing childhood obesity. I am including some images and video, but after the jump, since these ads are incredibly triggering. Because what they are, simply put, is bullying.

Billboards show black and white pictures of children with captions like, “Warning: Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line,” and “Warning: It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” TV ads feature parents and children looking sad and sitting in chairs that creek.

This is just cruel body snark. The ads offer nothing but shame, which I refuse to accept as an effective strategy for health education.

The way we’ve come to link fat and health is an overly simplistic take on a complex reality. What’s not complicated is that bullying is bad for your health. It’s psychologically harmful, which is a health issue, and which can lead to plenty of other negative health outcomes.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is standing behind their campaign, called Strong4Life. It’s a big project for them, with a budget of $50 million dollars.

I’m saddened by the idea people think it’s not just OK but helpful to be this mean.

To tell them bullying and shame are not health care, you can contact the campaign via Twitter @strong_4_life or on their Facebook page (warning: offensive text and images abound). You can email Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta here. While I won’t advocate calling one of their hospitals and clogging their phone lines, I absolutely support calling their giving line at 404-785-GIVE (4483).

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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