Subjecting Kids to Anti-Child Obesity Ads

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is running TV commercials and placing ads on billboards showing children with larger bodies in an attempt to help childhood obesity. This ad in particular is pushing for children to lose weight, with the seemingly overall goal to make kids healthier, as if weight and health were synonymous. It advertises to kids that this girl is unhappy in her own skin, or ought to be, because of her size, and that she is different than other “little” girls. Will this cause other little girls with bigger bodies to feel that they should be uncomfortable in theirs too?

The coloring of the ad is mostly black and white, essentially setting a negative mood.  The flaring red “warning” sign at the bottom represents this to be an alarming and serious issue. The girl is crossing her arms as though she is ashamed of her body and is attempting to hide it.
This approach at lowering the rate of childhood obesity lowers kids’ self-esteem.  The impact this ad has on its intended audience is not motivational, but discriminatory. Instead of providing a source of inspiration and confidence for health both mentally and physically, the tone of this ad establishes feelings of ugliness, insecurity, and failure in young girls.

Children’s developing concepts of themselves as individuals are bound up in their need to understand the expectations of the society of which they are a part.1   Our society demands for perfect, skinny, and attractive girls. It’s a sad thing to see younger and younger girls being unhappy with their bodies.  Boys and girls, young and old, struggle to accept what they look like because of the overwhelming media-storm in our lives telling us we’re supposed to look a certain way.
Kids generally come with the ability to be comfortable in their bodies.  However, at some point in time they realize that it is not okay to be different and that one body size is supposed to fit all.

Consider these questions as you look at the ad:
•    Who is this being marketed to? Adults? Children? Medical Professionals?
•    What feelings do you experience when you see the image and text in context?
•    If there was an adult in the ad instead of a child, would it change your reaction?