Third Time’s the Charm!
DATELINE: October 21, 2013: JOIN OUR CRUSADE!
In March, 2011, I wrote a blog post for Eating Disorders Online entitled, Dear Michelle, about Michelle Obama’sLet’s Move Campaign. In my article, I referenced Paul Campos’ piece in the Daily Beast where Campos does a brilliant job explaining why the Let’s Move campaign has a rather large Achilles’ heel.
In March, 2013, I wrote, Michelle, It’s me Again, also about Let’s Move, and now…
in October, 2013, I am writing my third piece about how our First Lady uses her good fortune of having a huge public platform with extensive media coverage to promote her Let’s Move Campaign.
For those of you who are not aware of the Let’s Move Campaign, it is the First Lady’s mission to decrease childhood obesity via increasing exercise and decreasing consumption of junk food. Ms Obama’s intentions are rarely questioned by the mainstream media. After all, at least on the surface, who can argue with wanting our kids to be healthy? But if you take the time to explore the underbelly of her campaign and her means of publicizing it you see a completely different image. Taking the time to explore and research is something that Michelle doesn’t seem to have done. If she had, she may have found that Health at Every Size® is one way to encourage incorporating healthy movement and mindful eating without using fat shaming messages.
But sadly, she took the road too frequently traveled and what resulted was that once again fat children were labeled as wrong, diseased, needing to be eliminated while thin children, healthy or not, were deemed good, correct, and successful. Michelle Obama was, albeit unintentionally, sending the meta-message to bullies that they could target fat kids. Think about it, if the First Lady says fat kids are not okay, why should a bully think otherwise? Another outcome was giving thin children, who may be engaging in unhealthy behaviors, a pass on mindful eating and exercise because appearance is sometimes the only measurement used to categorize a child as obese; thus needing an intervention.
On a positive note there was an outcry via blogs and articles amongst the HAES®, Size and Fat Acceptance Communities that seemed to have an impact on Michelle’s public statements at least for a moment in time. She began making statements that were less fat shaming and based more on a weight neutral approach to health and wellness. In an article in the Sacramento Bee, the Eating Disorders Coalitionreported that Mrs. Obama stressed that a lifestyle of
“overall wellness, not size or weight, dictates health in the long run.”
And an article in the Huffington post quoted Obama as saying,
“I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don’t want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body –because everybody is different, every person’s body is different– what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be.”
If we are measuring progress using successive approximation, this was indicating an upward trajectory and needed positive reinforcement! So, during that period I, along with numerous other folks in the HAES and F&S Acceptance communities, launched a letter writing campaign and we were full steam ahead! Or not…
on April 3, 2012, Michelle Obama appeared on The Biggest Loser. A collective groan and sigh could be heard as the HAES and Size/Fat Acceptance and Eating Disorder Prevention and Treatment Communities once again grabbed our keyboards and wrote articles and letters challenging the First Lady’s poor choice for promoting Let’s Move. No one I know of received even a form letter from the Obama office and the hype continued. Obesity was labeled a disease by the AMA, and the Childhood Obesity War waged on.
But weight…there’s more.
The latest bad news, actually gives us a new golden opportunity to get active! And no, I’m not talking about physically active, or going out and finding a new way to move your body that is weight neutral and done just for the joy of moving. I’m talking about politically active. If you have not been involved in that kind of movement ever or it’s been a while, here’s your chance to get going.
Michelle Obama is about to appear on The Biggest Loser, yet again, in the name of healthy children. If you know anything about the show, you know there is nothing healthy about the process or outcome of this drastic weight loss reality show. If you have done even a modest amount of research you have found that there is proof that the weight lost during the show, is regained once the cameras are gone and the contestants are left alone with their “new bodies” sans coaches and fame. There was a wonderful article by Harley Pasternak talking about life after T.B.L. and how poorly prepared the “losers” are to sustain their weight loss and adjust to their new bodies. In short, for Michelle to use The Biggest Loser as a vehicle to promote healthy bodies for children is a bad fit in every aspect.
If you agree with me and want to join in on our campaign to stop Michelle from appearing on The Biggest Loser you need to act now! You can get involved in several ways and they don’t take very long.
One way is to sign THIS PETITION that urges Obama to engage with communities that specialize in the effects of weight stigmatizing in lieu of appearing on the show. You can also view and share THIS VIDEO.
If you are a blogger, please write a blog or feel free to cross post this blog with your subscribers if you feel this is something they will support. If you use any social media please share the petition via Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, Stumbleupon, Reddit, etc. etc. etc.
On October 23, 2013, we are trying to create as much social network activity as possible using the following hashtags:
You can also find memes written by several activists in the field and compiled by Lizabeth Wesely-Casella,
Founder of Binge Behavior.com, to use on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/bingebehavior/biggest-loser-and-weight-stigma/
If you have ANY other suggestions, or questions about this or want to report what action you took, please let me know in the comment section!
Til next time! Dr. Deah