It seems that anything with the Disney name is an instant success. However, this week they may have just made their biggest mistake. The new Epcot Disney exhibit, Habitat Heroes, which tackles childhood obesity, has made many critics furious, forcing the exhibit to shut down. Blue Cross and Blue Shield partnered with Disney to create Habitat Heroes. The exhibit is designed to take visitors through sets of interactive experiences that fight bad habits.
The exhibit is being accused of stigmatizing overweight kids as it features animated fitness heroes such as “Will Power” and “Callie Stenics” as your guides through interactive rooms where they fight habits like too much television and junk food. The heroes face off against the villains “Super-sized Snacker” and “Lead Bottom.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield intended on the exhibit encouraging healthy habits among children so that they would improve their health and thus, lower health-care costs.
The problem the critics had was that Disney attached the worst habits to an overweight kid’s body.
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a bariatric surgeon in Ottawa, Canada sounded off about these facts. “Here’s to Disney’s reinforcing society’s most hateful negative obesity stereotyping.” Freedhoff also brought up the similarities to this exhibit and the recent Georgia ad campaign that featured obese children and stark quotes about their struggles. Freedhoff feels that both the Disney exhibit and the state of Georgia ads show “a complete lack of understanding for childhood obesity.”
Disney has postponed the March 5 official opening date of Habitat Heroes. Representatives from the exhibit state that the previews were designed to get feedback and they aim to open an exhibit that conveys positive messages about health in a fun and empowering way.