Tag Archives: Ads

California Gov. Health Organization “Photoshops” Kids Picture to Fight Childhood Obesity


Good job California.  So you passed Proposition 10 to collect a fifty-cent tax on every pack of cigarettes.  You’ve used that money to create First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission which is:

dedicated to improving the lives of California’s young children and their families through a comprehensive system of education, health services, childcare, and other crucial programs.

And the commission you created with this money, chooses to use those resources to drastically retouch a picture of a little girl to make her look fat for an ad campaign designed to scare parents into limiting the amount of sugar they feed their kids.


Here’s the original photo, next to the retouched version:

First of all, whatever amount of state tax money that was used to do that image retouching is waaaay too much.  I could get far better design work than that done on fiverr.com for $5 USD.

Next, I have to ask, why would we spend any amount of state tax money on shaming fat parents and fat kids in the face of the fact it just doesn’t work?  In fact  study after study shows that stigmatizing and bullying kids about their weight not only fails to create thinner kids, but also tends to trigger more participation in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, drinking, substance abuse, binge eating and other forms of disordered eating.

So why exactly are we spending state tax money to create ads aimed at preventing childhood obesity that are actually more likely to increase levels of childhood obesity while at the same time encouraging our kids to engage in higher levels of destructive behavior?

I’m sure that some of the fear-mongering, hand-wringing, head-shaking folks that created this glorious ad campaign will ask you to “think about the children”.   They will cite statistics about childhood obesity and suggest that something must be done to protect the health of these poor kids.

To which I would reply, “Yes.  All kids deserve to be healthy.  So let’s focus on stuff that does that.”  Shaming kids does not make them thinner or healthier.  But there are some things we can do.  In fact, in honor of First 5, I’ll give you five suggestions:

1.  How about making sure kids have a safe place to play?

2.  How about reinstating some of the physical education programs that have been cut from schools for lack of budget?

3.  How about making sure that kids of all sizes have access to a variety of high-quality, nutritionally dense foods?

4.  How about we help fat kids learn to accept and love themselves so that they are more likely to exercise and treat themselves well?

5.  How about we add “body size” as a category for school anti-bullying programs.

Sure, these programs would be more difficult than cranking out a basic bus shelter advertisement.  And undoubtedly some of these programs would cost more than hiring the world’s worst graphic designer to “fatten up” the image of an innocent kid.  But given the fact that some of these programs might, I don’t know, help some kids live healthier lives, maybe we should just fund those instead.

As a final note, the folks at First  5 may find themselves facing some pretty well-organized and powerful opposition.  It’s already started in the form of an awesome homemade protest flyer at the site of one of the bus shelters:

Blog2But as some folks in Georgia found out, folks can get pretty riled up and do some pretty amazing things when you shame and frighten their children.

So maybe we should take a step back and a deep breath and try again.  I’m sure, upon some calm reflection, we can find better ways to promote good health for children of all sizes.


The Fat Chick


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Redefining Female Superheroes


I recently came across this blog post about a young woman who dared to go to Comic Con and participate in a portfolio review to share some of her drawings of female superheroes.  Among the drawings she submitted was this picture:

batgirlApparently, the reviews of the above drawing were rather brutal, not because the drawing wasn’t good, but because the woman in the drawing didn’t represent the proper proportions necessary for saving the world.  The artist reported that one reviewer said:

“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”

Okay.  So what we want is the “peak of human perfection”–which for women, means perky breasts, thin hips, waist and thighs and flowing hair.  So while she’s saving the world, she can do promotional spots for hair conditioners and late night infomercials for fitness gimmicks?  Because the real superpower of a woman is boosting the economy with multifarious credit cards–assuaging her insecurity with extremely expensive but patently useless products, right? Right?

It’s perhaps not too surprising that a lot of people are starting to find this notion of female superhero as supermodel kind of frustrating.  And naturally, it has spawned some delicious and highly creative backlash.  (Yay, Internetz!) There’s this contest created on DeviantART inviting artists to submit their interpretations of a a fat female superhero. The creator of the contest shares her delight at both the incredible diversity of the drawings submitted and the fact that cartoonists are willing to step out of their comfort zone to draw body diversity.  There are so many cool pictures on there, it’s worth a look.  Seriously.

Then there’s this recent project, where Alexandria Law takes pictures of little girls dressed up like superheroes and draws them.  The photos of the kids are so cool.  These kids are clearly are having fun while demonstrating some well needed “girl power”.  I also love how the resultant drawings are powerful without being hypersexualized.  (Is that a real word?  If not, it should be.)

Little-Girl-Superheroes-09By the way, any kid that pairs a tutu and body armor wins super extra bonus points in my book.  And, I was heartened to see some movement towards recognizing that superheroes don’t all come in Sports Illustrated packages.

Which leads us to the origin of the picture on the top of this post.  It was created by Chicago artist twin sisters Sarah and Catherine Satrun.  They created this piece for sale at C2E2 (Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo in part as a response to those recent ads by Dove.  (More on that tomorrow).  And this image has started to go super, mega, viral. Which is curious in light of the reviewers statement that “nobody is interested in a comic with a fat female protagonist”.

So, my dear readers.  Here’s to the understanding that we are ALL Wonderwomen.  We all have the power to fly.  If not on stubby little wings like this fat chick, or an invisible plane, maybe with your very own superhero cape!

Then again, maybe not…


The Fat Chick