If you’ve been anywhere on the Fat-o-Sphere lately, chances are you’ve heard about Georgia’s new ‘Strong 4 Life’ campaign against childhood obesity. Don’t even get me started on state programs that use numbers instead of the homonym words they represent. We don’t have the next five years.
The real thing that’s getting my knickers in a major and painful twist isn’t the revolting assault on correct grammar, it’s the fact that this campaign boils down to government sponsored bullying of children ‘for their own good.’
It consists mostly of black and white images and short videos of children talking about their experiences being fat. They talk about being bullied, having no friends, and generally being miserable. And that’s when the message begins that it’s all their own fault. If only they ate their vegetables instead of deep fried Twinkies, if only they played baseball instead of video games, if only they really cared about themselves, they would be thin and happy and healthy.
What message does that send fat kids who love broccoli and run around outside already? That these things are worthless if they don’t make you thin.
What message does it send fat kids who do eat some sweets and really prefer television to soccer? That they’re lazy, unloveable slobs who don’t deserve to live if they don’t stop what they’re doing and get thin,
What message does it send thin kids who eat some sweets and prefer television? That fat kids must be the laziest slobs on the earth and that they, themselves, are perfectly healthy and therefore morally superior.
What message does it send thin kids who can’t get enough spinach and love spending time shooting hoops? That if they ever eat a slice of birthday cake or spend a couple hours reading they might become fat and disgusting, so they’d better never stop even for a minute. Oh, and if they bully a fat kid, that’s extra anti-fat brownie points.
What message does it send to parents? That the only thing that matters about their children is whether or not they are thin. That they must bully, restrict, and terrorize their children for their own good.
This makes me want to put on my Fat Avenger Super Suit and go knock some heads together.
Luckily, someone else beat me to the punch. There’s a petition up on Change.org asking the state of Georgia to end this public policy disaster. Regan at Dances with Fat and Harriet Brown at Feed Me have both talked about this petition, but it will take more voices to make change happen.
Sure, you’re just one voice, but yours could be the one that tips the scales. Sign the petition, spread the word. Let’s think of the children.