2. Encourage Critical Thinking

Setting: Georgia, United States
Population: Parents/General population
Issue: Childhood obesity/fat shaming

In 2012, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Hospital launched an ad campaign called Strong4Life38 (www.strong4life.com) which focused on childhood obesity (the ad campaign was part of the organization’s five-year, $25 million initiative). The campaign used images of overweight children with tag lines such as: “How can I be a little girl if I’m not?” and “Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line.”

In response, Marilyn Wann (39-40) and others launched the I Stand Campaign which took aim at the images and messages of the campaign itself. The I Stand Campaign challenged weight bigotry and articulated a clear, realistic and relevant response to simultaneously respect and celebrate strong girls and present a real life images to counter linear and punitive interpretations of weight control messaging. Wann invited individuals to submit photos of themselves with a statement of what they ‘stand for’. The first poster, featuring Marilyn Wann, read ‘I STAND against harming fat children. Hate /= health’. The counter-advertising stirred controversy, but persisted in making the point that shaming young girls (and others) who were overweight was inhumane and counterproductive. Such organizations as About Face, an organization devoted to equipping girls with media literacy skills helped to articulate the response and why the Strong4Life campaign was ill conceived (41).

Challenging Harmful Media Messages
About-Face is a US-based non-profit organization that equips women and girls with tools to understand and resist harmful media messages that affect their self-esteem and body image.

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