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Digital Manipulation —

January 23, 2012
by

Hat tip to Wendy Brown for the links to the story on Chloe and her YouTube video.

Welcome to Week Three of our stand against Strong4Life.

This is the week when the rubber really hits the road.

If you’ve been following our coverage, you’ve read a lot of bullshit about Strong4Life, but today’s Outrage of the Day comes courtesy of Harriet Brown.

Turns out those poor, sick and sullen fat kids who are dying from the diabetes and hate themselves for being fat? It’s sad, no?

Yeah, not so much.

They are child actors.

They aren’t children who are poor, sick and sullen fat kids who are dying from the diabetes and hate themselves for being fat, but they do play them on TV.

Now, in fairness, Ron Frieson, Chairman of Strong4Life, admitted as much in that Today Show interview. Frieson also says that the words in the campaign come from fat kids themselves, so it’s all right, right?

I mean, if fat kids are admitting that they are horrible and nobody likes them and they think they’re going to die soon, then it’s completely okay to publish those words for all fat kids to see, right? We’ll call it, aligning self-esteem.

Now that Strong4Life is feeling the heat, they’ve taken to parading the child actors around to show that their ads don’t hurt fat kids:

In real life, Chloe, 11, actually doesn’t have hypertension, according to her mother.

“That was the commercial,” Tiffany McSwain said. “She doesn’t have any major health issues, and I’m grateful for that. That’s something we’re trying to prevent at this stage.”

Her face, body and weight issues are plastered all over Atlanta, but the people she knows, good friends and otherwise, haven’t taunted her, she said.

“I have confidence in my friends, and my friends are really supportive,” she said. “They’re excited that I’m in a commercial and on billboards.”

Wow! Chloe has confidence and her friends support her? Surely nothing bad has come of these ads, then!

Except…

Chloe is home-schooled, but she does musical theater, summer camps and performing arts classes. [emphasis mine]

I don’t know a lot about home-schooling, but I’m going to go out on a ledge here and say that there aren’t a lot of bullying issues in home-schooling.

And what about kids who don’t have very high self-esteem to begin with? Because, I gotta tell ya, Chloe is not hurting for self-esteem at all. Check this out:

Chloe clearly has the kind of self-confidence and self-worth that we want our fat kids to have. And if you have that foundation, you are less likely to take the hurtful words of others (including hateful billboards) to heart.

While I’m thrilled that Chloe seems like a BAMF in her own right, this does nothing to appease our concerns about the rest of the fat kids in Georgia.

Strong4Life claims they are monitoring the mental health of fat kids in Georgia with surveys, but the fact that nobody on Strong4Life’s staff was ever a fat kid does not bode well for their empathy.

With that in mind, I’d like to announce a new project to help Strong4Life understand what fat kids face.

Now, this video is rife with profanity, so it’s not for children. What it is is a call for others to post their videos on their experiences with fat bullying.

There is also one other issue that I tried to resolve, but could not see a way around it. I mention that this week is No Name Calling Week, which is true. It was only after sharing the video with Wendy Brown (whose comment is in the video) that she pointed out that I call a few of the Strong4Life people names… oh, and the video is called “Hey Strong4Life, Don’t Be a Dickweed.”

I considered editing to be consistent, but after several failed attempts I have resigned myself to accusations of hypocrisy with the intention of responding to those accusations by paraphrasing Strong4Life: I’m just trying to get their attention.

After you create your video, post the link in the comments below.

Also, be sure to check out Marilyn Wann’s Stand4Kids poster project on Tumblr, and submit your own. Send your photos to marilyn at fatso dot com.

And in the near future, Ragen Chastain will be announcing the details of our $10,000 fundraiser to post a fat positive billboard in the Atlanta area.

Be sure to join our Facebook group to keep up with us and sign the Change.org petition.

And, finally, check out our new blog, which is compiling all relevant blog posts regarding this issue at Fat Kids United.

Thank you for helping us fight fat shame and hatred!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    January 23, 2012 4:49 pm

    If what the kids say in the commercials is scripted (what’s on the billboards, etc), what’s to say that what they say in interviews isn’t scripted for them by the ad agency? After all, if they’re comfortable having lies* about them printed across their images for this ad campaign, why wouldn’t they be comfortable telling an interviewer that what they say in the ad campaign doesn’t bother them and they’ve never been bullied for their weight, even if it’s not true? CHOA is giving them free access to their programs as compensation for doing this ad campaign, does anyone really think those kids’ parents are going to let them say anything that will upset CHOA? (Yeah, yeah, I’m a cynical bitch, but really, has CHOA given us any reason to not be cynical?)
    *having hypertension when she doesn’t actually have hypertension, that the boy got fat by eating at buffets, etc

  2. January 31, 2012 11:06 am

    I don’t really have words to describe how stunned and furious I am. This is shameful – DISGRACEFUL! They have denigrated perfectly beautiful children and pushed them to feel shame for their body types. I am DISGUSTED by the entire thing. What unbelievable, lying %$#@!s.

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