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Friday, February 3, 2012

S.F. Fat Activists Oppose Atlanta's Anti-Obesity Campaign

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Anti-child "obesity" campaign or weight bigotry?
  • Anti-child "obesity" campaign or weight bigotry?
A San Francisco fat activist has helped raise more than $12,000 to launch a campaign to counter the public shaming of obese children. What set all this off: Currently in Atlanta, the second most obese city in the nation, Strong 4 Life billboards sponsored by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta show black-and-white shots of "chubby" children stamped with labels such as "fat kids become fat adults."

Dairy Queen supports Atlanta's Strong 4 Life campaign, while Kaiser Permanente disclaims it -- isn't that a red flag? The fat activism community has expressed disgust with Atlanta's anti-obesity efforts, calling the ads a shameful form of bigotry.

"It's time to take a stand and support developing healthy habits in kids of all sizes without stigmatizing fat ones," said Ragen Chaistain, fatosphere blogger.

The fat activism community has responded with a campaign of its own, Stand 4 Everybody, which argues that weight discrimination hurts.

Stand 4 Everybody's website pleads supporters to donate to Chastain's Support All Kids Billboard Project, which raised more than $12,000 in a single day to fund a counter-billboard in Atlanta saying something like "Shame is bad for your health." The billboard is scheduled to appear in two to four weeks.

click to enlarge supportallkids.jpg

An additional $5,000 will be donated by an Atlanta-based fat-activism group once 1,000 individuals donate. Even members of Atlanta's fat community are disappointed in their city's efforts to prevent heart disease.

S.F. activist (and SF Weekly contributor) Marilyn Wann gave 10 autographed copies of her book Fat! So? and 10 specialFat! So?dayplanners to the first wave of donators.

Wann also began a photo series of satirical advertisements, the "I STAND..."

marilynwannistand.jpg

One I STAND... supporter poses in her jogging gear and says "I stand for doing what you love in full view of those who doubt you." She says she is a "350 pound babe [and] as healthy as a horse."

Stand 4 Everybody has formed boycotts against brands that support CHOA's campaign. The anti-childhood obesity campaign ironically accepts corporate sponsorship from Waffle House, Dairy Queen, IHOP, and Coca-Cola, among others.

The anti-fat-ads campaign encourages outreach to influential voices like Michelle Obama and health institutes to create awareness of the demeaning billboards. Seven supporters are listed on the website, including health organizations and Dan Savage, whose syndicated column runs in the print edition of SF Weekly.

"It's hard to be among the 1 million fat kids in Georgia," Strong 4 Life's ads say. Their campaign kids complain about being bullied for their weight. Once their schoolmates see a proclamation of their weight problem on a television commercial or billboard, what will happen? Probably more bullying. Right, Atlanta?

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Erin Browner

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