Via Jeff Fecke (who is constantly having to wage war against fat-shaming and fat jokes), this story was brought to my attention. As someone with a mother and grandmother who have both struggled with weight issues, this enrages me:
Disney World has officially joined the fight against childhood obesity — and the reactions are mixed.
An interactive exhibit named Habit Heroes opened on February 3rd as part of Disney’s Innoventions, a two-building playspace at Epcot, the Orlando Sentinel reports. It’s co-sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield, and features protagonists Callie Stenics and Will Power who lead participants through a series of activities aimed at destroying “villains” bearing names like Sweet Tooth, Lead Bottom and The Snacker.
Disney, in their infinite moral wisdom, have decided that ‘fighting childhood obesity’ means ‘let’s make overweight kids feel like shit by portraying causes of obesity as villains, and we’ll make these villains fat and ugly too, in case you didn’t get our point that being fat makes you an awful human being.” This horribly named ‘Habit Heroes’ exhibit is interactive: kids get to take down dastardly do-badders like Lead Bottom – I guess they only refrained from using “Fat Ass” for being too profane, because God knows even mildly bad language is so much worse than fostering ignorance and contempt for other human beings! – and Insecura. Yes, low self-esteem is, according to Disney, a bad habit, and not an emotional/psychological issue that needs understanding and love to overcome. Of course, the people behind this are too fucking stupid and insensitive to realise that treating low self-esteem as such, and indeed this whole disgusting exhibit, is actually going to compound this very serious problem in children instead of helping them gain the confidence they so desperately need.
Yeah Disney, destroying kids’ self-esteem and basically telling others it’s fine to bully people for being fat is going to do wonders to bring down childhood obesity. Turning kids anorexic or even making them resort to killing themselves due to shame and feelings of worthlessness is one way of solving the obesity problem, I suppose. Very Swiftian.
Unfortunately, this is reflective of a bigger problem in society at large – people go on about how bullying is awful, and how we need to put a stop to it. As a victim of bullying myself, I wholeheartedly applaud efforts to do something about this scourge of both childhood and adulthood. And then I see people, often the very same people who deplore bullying, making fat jokes and turning fat people’s weight against them, and the hypocrisy and careless cruelty makes me want to vomit. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to call out people for cracking fat jokes about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. I’ve got news for these idiots: Christie isn’t an asshole because he’s fat. He’s an asshole because he’s an asshole.
Personal appearance has long been the most common reason for people to bully others, but we’ve succeeded in establishing a consensus that it’s not okay to make fun of people for having spots, or red hair, or for being short, etc. But apparently it’s still okay to make fun of people for being overweight. Because, you know, it’s their own fault. If Fatty over there would only lose some weight, they wouldn’t get picked on. We tell bullying victims how “it’s the bully’s fault, not yours. You’re not to blame.” And then we go and make an exception for fat people, for whom it will NEVER GET BETTER. Instead of a “It Gets Better” campaign, we need to make “STOP THIS SHIT NOW” campaign aimed at the perpetrators and enablers of not just fat-shaming, but ALL kinds of bullying. Encouraging the victims isn’t enough – some contributors to those “It Gets Better” videos have gone on to kill themselves – we need to tackle the root cause of their suffering: the bullies, and our own prejudices.
As a start, I’d like you all to read this post by someone who’s had weight problems, read how this ‘Habit Heroes’ exhibit made them feel, and spread the word that shaming people who are overweight is not only counter-productive, but flat-out wrong.