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You Aren’t Going to Like This One

October 2, 2013

Fat HealthFat News

Over the years, this site has detailed the sometimes strange, but often times wonderful fluctuating path of Walt Disney World’s stance on how it treats it guests. More specifically, how it handles the day-to-day needs of handicapped or mobility-impaired park-goers.

To be fair, it’s gotten mixed reviews depending on the time of year, the accommodations requested and the people encountered, but I believe that every company struggles with these things to a degree. So a company as massive as Disney should be commended for going out of its way to make you feel as loved as they do (even if you are remortgaging your house to spend a week in the House of Mouse).

Full disclosure here, I’m a child born and raised on a trip to Disney World every single year of my life.

Every. Single. Year.

Disney2

Replace the lid to prevent freezer burn.

I drink the Kool-Aid, sing the songs and cry every time I pass under the magnificent colorful arch that tells me I am back in paradise, where my Main Street fantasies are far grander than the 3/4 scale of its whimsical buildings. I love the place.

So it is with an odd sort of discomfort that I read about Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative that started popping up all over my emails and messages (which, incidentally, I pretend come directly from Walt’s cryogenically-frozen head in storage… don’t judge me).

Back in 2010, Disney announced their collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama and Healthy Kids, Healthy Families, when the Magic of Healthy Living launched right out of the gate with few complaints.

On the one hand, I completely understand the desire to get kids running around and eating right while they wait two hours on line for Space Mountain. On the flip side, there’s an embarrassing photo of me gnawing on a massive turkey drumstick and washing it down with a frothy barrel-sized vat of beer in Epcot.

Lately I’ve been seeing news blurbs from the TRYit! campaign which encourages children and their families to venture forth and try new foods and get their asses moving in simple ways. This makes more sense I suppose, if you are aware of how far reaching the arms of the Disney machine stretch. They’ve got their straws in the milkshakes of several massive social media sites, television, radio, a transmitter embedded in your brain (not that last one) and, just like Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Disney drinks your milkshake! Or something like that.

Trust me, Disney is powerful and influential. Like the mafia, except more Jedi mind trickery and less firepower.

Anyway, here’s the kicker. Disney isn’t forcing anyone to eat right. They are simply providing that option for you and clucking disapprovingly like your mom if you don’t choose correctly.

My last visit was months ago, and I will say that our hotel had a food court that provided both luxuriously sinful, as well as healthy and practical, options for everyone. I made sure to pack Disney-bought tangerines, granola bars and waters for the long, hot treks through the theme parks, and balanced that out with inhaling my four-course dinners like a starved caveman during a cold bleak winter.

So, how do you all feel? Do Disney’s attempts at promoting healthy living even make a blip on your radar? Would you risk the wrath of the supposedly-deceased-but-omnipotent Walt (he’s always watching, you know) and bypass all these suggestions? Are the choices something you’re happy about?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Nof permalink
    October 2, 2013 1:51 pm

    I don’t *mind* healthy initiatives, per se. I would love it if there were fruit vending machines alongside the chips and chocolate vending machines. I would love if everyone had access to safe places to exercise and fun forms of exercise to do. I would love if everyone had access to safe, fresh food and the time to cook it. Etc, etc. I think these are good things to do.

    But I immediately run into two problems: (1) the idea that we must do these things because PEOPLE ARE FAT! and (2) the idea that everyone must be in on this healthy initiative or they’re a horrible person destroying the nation with their healthcare costs and lost productivity.

    For (1): there are people who no amount of kale and 5ks will make thin. Research suggests that this group is the vast majority of people. So…when the healthy initiative fails to produce long-term weight loss (and it will), what do we do? Do we stop it because it’s unsuccessful? Because that’s pretty awful–many of these health initiatives are things that should be done because they are inherently good things to do. I don’t like them coupled to weight loss because it’s setting up otherwise beneficial programs for failure, and perpetuating the untrue story that fat people could be thin people if only they *tried*.

    (2) People are allowed to prioritize their lives however they want. Any health initiative needs to be based on some really good science and be as non-coercive as possible, in my opinion.

    I don’t know enough about the Disney campaign to know how it stacks up (the picky eater in my immediately balks at “try it!” because oh how I loathe those words). But I’m not holding my breath that it’s a net positive, because these things often aren’t.

    • dufmanno permalink
      October 2, 2013 1:57 pm

      Agreed. The oppositional defiance disorder in me immediately gets going as soon as someone starts talking about these things as a “must”- but the Disney campaign is sort of like a sneaky osmosis delivery.
      Interestingly enough, I liked the number of options available and where as once I would’ve packed a few more junky options for us to snack on during the day the appearance of packages fruit became suddenly appealing ( maybe because of the subliminal messages they pipe in through the speakers:D)

  2. purple peonies permalink
    October 2, 2013 5:37 pm

    i like the idea, especially if it’s healthful options for ALL (not just fat eliminationism, and not some kind of health club where the deliciously unhealthy stuff is no longer available)… however, this choice, paired with their new anti-PWD initiative changing how PWDs can access rides, makes me wonder if this is mostly healthism and body policing in disguise.

  3. lifeonfats permalink
    October 2, 2013 5:51 pm

    If these campaigns would just eliminate fat-shaming and stop using the obesity panic as means to promote their messages, I think I could get behind them more. But for the most part they don’t. It’s not “make healthier choices and get physical activity” because everyone (who can physically and financially do it I might add) can benefit, it’s because “WOAH TOO MANY FAT PEOPLE UGH!!!” There is no need to take a Chicken Little approach to everything.

    • Len permalink
      October 2, 2013 11:54 pm

      Hear, hear! I’m a believer in public health campaigns in general, but it would be nice to see more attempts for them to be positive and inclusive. When these sort of initiatives show happy, healthy people of all sizes, shapes, ages, backgrounds and abilities getting on with active lives and good nutrition (and when the campaigns are backed up by efforts to make these things AVAILABLE for everybody), I am willing to bet they will be that much more effective.

      It’s just a shame when people still think it’s inappropriate to show a fat kid playing energetic games or enjoying an apple, because woo! that would ‘glorify teh fatz’ …

  4. October 4, 2013 11:06 am

    I like your post and agree with everything you say. But I’m bringing attention to the drink the “drink the Kool Aid” line because I am just so bothered by it. Not by you using it, specifically, but by anyone using it. I think people in general have forgotten that the root of that phrase comes from a mass suicide in which over 900 people died and over 200 children were murdered. I think as thoughtful of a community as we are, we can come up with a better term for group think than one that conjures up memories of murdered children.

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