Tag Archives: Jezebel

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

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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.

Awesome!

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.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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Prof with poor impulse control wishes he hadn’t tweeted about will power, part the second

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD's. Nyah!

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD’s. Nyah!

So, yeah.  I’ve been continuing to follow the saga of Dr. Geoffrey Miller and day two of what just might be his worst week ever.  In case you missed it, this whole thing started when Dr. Miller tweeted:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Cue the poo storm of epic proportions. It’s enough to keep writers at Jezebel, HuffPo, Jane and Bitch magazines happily scribbling for weeks.  I mean we are talking about worldwide calls for Game of Thrones-style retribution here.  But amongst all the yelling, are some very interesting developments.

First, there’s this video response from Miller’s colleague and UNM Psychology Department Chairwoman, Prof. Jane Ellen Smith.

It is interesting to note that Professor Smith seems to take this whole tweeting business pretty darn seriously.  But right in the middle of the video, she reveals the third-act-dramatic-twist! Professor Smith says that Dr. Miller is now claiming that the whole tweeting business was part of an “research study” he was running.

Riiiiight.

So were his initial support  tweets of his original hate tweet followed by his hasty apology about his original hate tweet followed his frantic tweet declaring that of course neither he nor the university actually follow any practices that might be implied by his original hate tweet all part of the “social experiment” as well?  Was it part of his experiment to close down his twitter feed to all outside viewers who are not confirmed followers part of the experiment?   140 characters isn’t a lot to work with, but somehow I think this dude still doth protest too much. I am encouraged that Prof. Smith says she’s going to look into the validity of his claim.

It’s amazing just how much passion has been stirred up over this whole thing.  I am really, really excited to tell you about a new blog started by Dr. Cat Pausé called Fuck yeah! Fat PhDs all about being fatlicious in academia.  In this blog she is posting images of fat people in academia, many of whom somehow managed to get accepted into a program, complete coursework, finish their dissertations and walk up to the platform to receive their diplomas all while sporting bodies above a BMI of 25.  Imagine that!

Look, I don’t know Dr. Miller.  I can only comment on the things that I see.  And what I see is a guy that didn’t have enough will power to wait 30 seconds to consider his life, his career and his responsibilities as a human being before hitting the send button on a hateful one hundred odd characters all about, wait for it, will power.  His apologies and the subsequent “social experiment” defense, seem a little suspect to me.

So, if Dr. Miller wants me to believe in his sincerity, he’s going to have to put some actions behind those hundred character mea culpa statements.  Let me know that he’s read some of the brilliant writing about Fat Stigma from such visionary teachers, researchers and writers as:

Amy Erdman Farrell, Dickinson University, author of Fat Shame: Fat Stigma and the Body in American Culture

or

Abigail C. Saguy, UCLA, author of What’s Wrong with Fat?

or

Dr. Linda Bacon, UC Davis, author of Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight

of course, if he’s still confused about Health At Every Size or Fat Stigma, I would be happy to come and speak on the topic at any of the universities he’s affiliated with.  Or they could hire any of my many amazing colleagues like Ragen Chastain, Golda Poretsky or Marilyn Wann to speak.  If he actually makes some kind of attempt to learn from his mistake by spending just a little time listening to those of us who have spent decades doing actual, you know, science around this topic, I might be inclined to believe him.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll just tweet about it.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your university or special event!