Thursday, March 18, 2010

Brazil Yogurt Is At It Again: Another Fat Campaign

Fat discrimination seems to be running rampant these days. And research supports this trend.

Yes, it's true, we're not as active as our ancestors. Yes, we all lead far more sedentary lives than centuries, or even decades ago. And yes, it's important to make mindful nutritional choices. But why in the age of genetics, are obese individuals still shamed about their appearance? Is the question really that the general public hasn't fully embraced the "Health at Every Size Movement."

Scientific research has shown that weight and body type are genotype-specific. This means that your weight range is tied to your genetic template - and it's very difficult to change. Still, many people think that those who are overweight and obese are just lazy, thoughtless and lack willpower. A recent study even noted that medical professionals viewed overweight patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly, and unlikely to comply with treatment.”


Back in 2007 the Brazilian yogurt company Marilia tried a "shame campaign" to sell their product. Many, myself included, actually found the photos of the plus size women lovely, not unappealing like the advert suggested. It was still a thoughtless and stigmatizing campaign.

This current advert is less playful and more hostile. A gun target image of a fat man and woman. "Goodbye Fat" is the tagline.

What do you think?

Daníelsdóttir, S., O’Brien, K., & Ciao, A. (2010). Anti-Fat Prejudice Reduction: A Review of Published Studies Obesity Facts, 3 (1), 47-58 DOI: 10.1159/000277067


Jenna Coaster said...

Why are people so mean?

Wanda's Wings said...

No wonder there are so many eating disorders.

Dr. Deb said...


Sometimes people project their own inadequacies onto others. Sometimes people just like to have a can to kick. There are tons of reasons why people are mean. I like to think that when taken one on one, some people become more human and empathic.

So many eating disorders. Why can't we embrace the differences? It's not that hard to do.

Jenna Coaster said...

I'm always more comfortable going to a doctor that is overweight (I am overweight) because they are usually less likely to make me feel that I have to lose weight. I think they are more realistic regarding weight. Although all my doctors want me to exercise to help with my depression, but I'm too depressed and ashamed of my shape to work out.

Xmichra said...

marketing is a crude science. It preys on the insecurities in us all, even the deep seeded not so easy to read ones. And it's a shame. Which is why marketing has been pretty much interchangable with shameful and tactless.

Personally, I am having a really tough time with the focus on weight. Not even for myself anymore, but for my daughter. She is six and in grade one. And she is bigger than her three class-mates which she tends to play with. She is not fat. She is tall, and built differently, and is just bigger. But it is starting to effect her, because of the teachings from these other girls... and obviously they have been taught the same. And it's is shameless.

They were asked to do acrostics with their names. My daughters read:
K - Kind
I - Intelligent
R - Responcible
A - Adorable

Her friends read this:
A - Attractive
S - Skinny
I - Impossible
A - angel

Honestly... I just about died in the hall reading these... can we not see the problem???

CrackerLilo said...

This is awful, and yes, it looks blatantly hostile to me, too. I've lost weight just by being somewhat active and mostly choosy about what I eat, but I'm not skinny (still size 12/14), and you know what? I don't want to be, either, because I'd be evil-tempered from never eating things I enjoy or relaxing. Which may explain some of these ads and the attitudes that back them up. *sighs*

There's an American yogurt ad with a model (Heidi Klum, I believe) in an airport, slurping yogurt out of a small container. The message is supposed to be that the yogurt is so delicious she wants to savor every bit, even though it's only X amount of calories. But my wife (who is skinny) and I joke that it really looks like she's starving, and that yogurt's the biggest meal she's allowed herself all day. You don't need a literal target to be targeted, you know?

@ Jenna Coaster: Some gym instructors will do their best to be sensitive to women who wear double-digit sizes. I'm married to one of those. Also, I used to find that when I lived in an apartment complex, I could time my use of a pool and fitness center just right. Or, use DVDs or Wii games!

@ Xmchira: It's awful that those attitudes are already getting to kids in your daughter's class. If it's any consolation, Kira seems to have her priorities in the right place--her traits listed are mostly about her personality, not her looks. A couple of my friends have daughters who are tall; they've found that getting them interested in sports where their size is an asset helps a lot toward keeping them positive about their bodies.

Lily said...

I think it is run by people with the right idea, but the wrong initiative.

As a former obese person, the shame is already dwelling deep within you, but to have someone else point it out only makes it worse.

Never a good thing.

Lilla My said...

Weight is genetics + style of life. And this second point is more important. If not it means we are only slaves of our genes and what you do as psychologist is meaningless.

The truth is Americans weight more and more not because their genes changed. Or ... you know something that I don't know :))

JoeK said...

Being overweight is a complex psychological place to be. You get embarassed by your size, so putting on shorts and a t-shirt to go and get sweaty in a gym with a bunch of perfect looking strangers is not an attractive option. Also you get depressed so you want to eat. I am personally very familiar with both of the above being a 30ish overweight (almost obese on the BMI chart and it isn't muscle...) man who hasn't been happy with his weight since he was 12. I also think now, with hind-sight, that my idea of being overweight when I wasn't probably led to a lot of my weight gain (as I felt I had nothing left to loose).

But at the end of the day - you are overweight because you eat too much, and embarasement won't kill you, but heart disease and other cardiovascular problems may well do! So you have to sort yourself out, eat less and exercise more.

Genetics affects how easy the process is, and how much you have to battle against the tendancy to put on weight, but it doesn't make you eat. Your weight is entirely a matter of personal choice.

And so I think this movement to "celebrate all sizes" is dangerous.

Being overweight is both unhealthy and unattractive (and by this I mean being really overweight - being underweight like most Holywood types is also unhealthy and unattractive). And holding on to that thought is important for people like me who really want to avoid the long easy slide in to long-term health problems that modern society and my genetics are conspiring to push me towards.

So if you want to be fat, then I certainly respect your choice, but to celebrate it? No way. And I will always think - just I would of a friend who smokes or who drinks too much - that it would be in your best interests to change your lifestyle, not as a judgement on you but as a wish for your best and longest future.

Deb said...

I'm a bit on the fence about this only because it's more of a health issue than anything else. I was reading all the comments, especially the heartbreaking one Xmichra wrote. Kids these days are so focused on being skinny, not going above size 0, that it's enabling eating disorders to get to that size or maintain it.

Being that I'm overweight myself, I'm very concerned. I'm not "obese", however my father is 350 lbs. He has diabetes and some health issues. He was very thin while in his 20's to late 20's. Once he got into his 30's (like myself) he started putting the pounds on and never was able to get it back off. I do believe that it is genetics, but I also believe that it's our lifestyle choices. I know that I make the wrong choices and I'm trying to change that so much right now. The summer is scary for me because I hate wearing short sleeved shirts. You'll never catch me wearing a pair of shorts either.

To "celebrate all sizes" to some degree, takes the shame out of our problematic ongoing issues, but we should be "celebrating getting under the root of the problem"... I know that for me, I'm an emotional eater. If I'm depressed or feeling down, I will either eat the wrong things, or drink alcohol more.

In any event, on the other side of the fence, I am attracted to women who have meat on their bones. I don't prefer skinny/slender. I think women are beautiful with curves and natural beauty. Being healthy doesn't mean you have to be skinny either. You can be "big"----and yet still active, and have a lower cholesterol and blood pressure than someone who is skinny who eats the wrong foods as well, or has bad genetics. So I'm on the fence.

I vote for health. (I know my comment is confusing but I'm struggling with weight myself.)

tracy said...

Sometimes you just deal with being hungry.

Dr. Deb said...

I think you are missing the point. "Health" at every size is the goal.

dragonflyfilly said...

hey there Dr. Deb!
new photo - great!
it's been a long time, but i am back in the blogosphere

Clueless said...

Having anorexia, this can trigger me into my behaviors. There is enough self-hatred involved and this just reinforces it. I think that it is irresponsible advertising. It further stigmatizes overweight persons who are usually self-aware about it and have low-self esteem. It is like they don't have a right to exist with their weight. And, it doesn't take into account health issues and other factors. Very disturbing campaign.

STAG said...

Try not to confuse the lightning rod for the building its sitting on.

If the losers don't like you because you are fat, they won't like you if you get thin, especially if they find out you got thin just for them! What power they have over you then!

Dr. Deb said...

You always say it best.

OHN said...

So often when getting out of the shower or passing a mirror in general, I suddenly see my mother looking back. I swear, when she died, she willed me her (saggy;) body. In turn, she was built like HER mother.

There is such a difference between heavy and unhealthy. I hover between a size 12 and 14 (I am 5'6") and yet am considered overweight by the insurance standards. (I found out recently they can raise your premiums if you don't fit into their parameter of a certain height to weight ratio). The reality is, I am healthy, and to me that is what really counts.

jumpinginpuddles said...

I wish people sould understand genetic makeup plays a huge part in your weight, and sometimes its not because you are a pig and eat too much. GRRRRRRRR

lightfeather said...

I have been overweight, struggled past several rounds of anorexia, came out of it alive, and been everywhere in between. I have lived through what people are like being overweight, underweight, and everywhere in between. I have taken thyroid medication since I have been 14 yeas old for underactive thyroid and can attest that simply not eating is not something that always works for some folks. Not eating simply tells the body to go into hybernation state and expend less calories, in effect, helping that person gain even more weight in spite of eating less. People simply need to spend less time concentrating on ridicule of others and more time doing some inner work as to why they have to feel that way about other people. Inner peace, whether you are slim, fat, beautiful, plain, smart or not so smart, is the path to true health and happiness.

Dr. Deb said...

I love what you wrote!

Tiptoe said...

It's disheartening to continue to see "shaming' and "shock" campaigns as a way to try to "change" people. In the en, it just doesn't ever help people get to the root of their problems.

I wish we could see further past a physical image of a person. Need we remember that you can never judge a book by its cover.

JoeK said...

Dr. Deb - I think *you* are missing the point (but of course - life would be so boring if everyone agreed!)

Health at *every* size is not possible. There are a range of sizes that you can be healthy at, and that range is much larger than modern media would have you believe (and probably doesn't include some of the sizes modern media promotes), but when you get very big you stop being healthy.

I'm not saying that fat people should be herded up and publicly humiliated (partly because I would class myself as a fat person), but being fat shouldn't be celebrated either, and the general public should be allowed to view being excessively overweight as an undesirable trait that they would seek to avoid.

Dr. Deb said...

True, if everyone agreed what a bland society we'd have.

We might be playing a semantic game here. I can see that health may not be attainable at *every* size but the idea is that health should be the goal, not thinness.

I have known thin people who are very ill and overweight people who have all their ducks in a row and are in great health. I'm sure you have seen this too.

Self-acceptance and a mindset for fitness seems more realistic.

Thanks for the spirited exchange of ideas.

Doll Mistress said...

I think that people should boycott this yogurt. When money talks, bullshit walks.