After a lot of criticism and the #Ashamed Twitter chat party to raise awareness of the Georgia ad campaign by Strong 4 Life addressing childhood obesity, the ads are coming down this month. If you haven’t heard about this campaign, it features black and white billboards of overweight elementary-aged children with guilt-inducing text. The billboards are targeted at the parents of the one million obese children throughout the state of Georgia, but the concern is that kids will see these messages and feel an incredible amount of shame, ridicule and guilt about their weight.
The efforts of those protesting these ads have paid off and they will all be removed sometime this month. While the fight against obesity is a very important one, the fight must be against obesity and not obese people. “Obesity prevention campaigns are a good thing, but they need to be done humanely. Partnering with families to help them instead of throwing daggers at them is the most humane way to get this done,” said Leah Segedie, the mom behind BookieBoo and Mamavation who spearheaded a campaign against the billboards.
Leah organized the #Ashamed Twitter chats in an effort to protest the billboards. She organized close to 700 mom and dad bloggers, fitness professionals, registered dietitians, doctors and others for the common cause of ending shame and speaking out against the campaign. “We demanded that the Strong 4 Life campaign take down the billboards we believed created an environment in Georgia that perpetuated bigotry, increased bullying in schools and ‘weight bias’. We all joined hands virtually and stood up against a non-profit with over $50 million at their disposal because they were wrong in thinking that it was okay to shame a child into better health,” Leah said.
There have been several suggestions for ideas for fighting childhood obesity that don’t involve using bullying tactics. Some of the ideas for ways Strong 4 Life could spend their budget that came out during the January 27 one-hour #Ashamed chat protest included farm visits as field trips to energize kids about making healthy food, allowing kids to garden at school and eat the vegetables they grow, and a walk-a-thon fundraiser where kids raise money for the distance or laps they walk.
The fact that these billboards will be removed counts as a victory for all. We’ve been a vocal supporter of Leah’s efforts and agree that fighting obesity in a humane way is the best way to get through to everyone.