Commercial Against Obsesity Goes too Far
Carolyn Conte ‘14 | Opinion Editor
A young girl is in her family room watching TV, chewing on chips while dreaming about being a star one day. The Covergirl commercial ends, and a dramatic black background appears on the screen. White words flash up with sudden sounds, “High Blood Sugar. High Cholesterol. Hypertension.” It goes on, and a black and white picture of a wide girl accompanies the words. “Get healthy. Get moving. Get a life. Cut childhood obesity down to size.” The bigger girl is replaced by a bone-thin child.
The state of Georgia has been criticized for its ads against obesity, but none of them offended me until this. When I heard a bit about the ‘insulting’ commercials, I was curious enough to watch some on Youtube. The first three left me thinking, “Yeah, it’s sad — but the kids themselves are admitting they want to be healthy and it’s not fun to get picked on. The overall message is to eat healthy, so it’s ok.” The last one I viewed, though, was truly disdainful. The overweight girl portrayed did not speak for herself as in the other ones, and instead written words narrated her health issues — which was good because it was informative — but when it wrote “Get a life,” my jaw dropped.
First of all, this is a totally wrong approach to encourage kids- especially girls- to diet. A person that needs to lose pounds should be motivated positively, not by bullying. “Stigma and prejudice are intensely stressful. Stress puts the body on full alert, which gets the blood pressure up, the sugar up,” said Colombia University Health professor Dr. Peter Muenning in a NY Times essay by Harriet Brown. Basically, feeling ugly and fat will make person more likely to get depressed, sick and gain more weight. There are a bajillion different ways to say ‘eat properly’ or ‘eat in moderation for a longer life,’ but it is plain offensive when you insinuate that the girl has no activities or friends. They have no right to imply that she has no social life, or that she has no potential for happiness. This was an unnecessary smack in the face to insecure obese children, and the phrasing itself was mean.
Then it has the audacity to follow with the expression ‘cut childhood obesity down to size’ and replace the still of the overweight girl with a stick figure girl. Muscle is required for a person to be in shape. A kid 20 pounds heavier than the one portrayed as ‘healthy’ would be average size. Enough kids are depressed because they hate themselves. Overweight and obese adolescents exemplified suicidal rates of 26.8% – more than twice the average of studied subjects, according to Medical News Today.
The sponsors should not be blaming the kids. Children adopt eating habits from their parents, and size structure is also inherited- it’s not easy to be perfect. Instead, the commercial made me feel like obese people are unwanted, useless losers that need to “Get a life” and be emaciated like the last image. That ad did not make any little girl aspiring to be the next Rihanna put down their chips and exercise. Personally, it made me feel ugly, and like there’s no fun in life if you aren’t thin.
You can watch it now at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPyw_VGrC3o&feature=related