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Anti-obesity campaign is a big shame

Anti-obesity campaign is a big shame

And I mean that literally. It’s shaming and it’s shameful, really.

This campaign, by LatinWorks, Austin for “League Against Obesity” (Liga Contra la Obesidad y el Sobrepeso in Guatemala) shows heroes that boys traditionally dream of becoming. There’s a fighter pilot, a firefighter, and an astronaut. The punchline is that the heroes are obese.



Photo of obese man in astronaut costume

I find this campaign problematic on several levels.

Guatemala has one of the highest adult obesity rates in the world. (Although much lower than the United States, where Latino men are the most affected.) Poor nutrition and lack of activity are social problems that lead to all kinds of health consequences. But does that make it OK to vilify fat people?

Looking at these models, who were hired to portray ironic caricatures of children’s heroes, I can’t help but feel awful for them. The campaign is basically saying: “Here’s something you definitely don’t want your children to become.” That’s cruel, because rather than talking about food, exercise, and general health, the campaign mocks people. And some people are big for a variety of personal reasons.

Body weight is the result of genetics, metabolism, environment, behaviour, and culture. Everyone does not simply have the body they deserve, and not every body that is different is a source of shame. Unless it’s shame being projected by media campaigns like this.

And shame, by the way, is not a great strategy for changing behaviour. It only preaches to the choir, who in this case are people who are sizeist. And I predict that it will do more to reinforce prejudice than to improve children’s health.

Source: Ads Of The World


I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more