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Humanitarian Aid —

January 11, 2012

Have you been bullied because you’re fat? That’s okay, says Strong4Life, they have the solution, according to this Twitter exchange.

Wow, Strong4Life has resulted in fat kids being bullied less? And it’s covered on NPR, no less? This I have to see:

Gayla Grubbs owns a sandwich shop in Griffin, Ga. Her son Sam, 15, is obese. Grubbs says she’s not upset by the anti-obesity ads that have raised controversy here.

“I was being bullied a lot because of my weight, and after I started losing it, it cut down quite a lot. They don’t call me names or anything like that anymore,” Sam says.

“It’s a self-esteem issue,” his mother says. “If you feel better about yourself, you’re going to carry yourself differently; and so that has helped.”

Emphasis most assuredly mine.Let me get this straight: Strong4Life’s anti-bullying solution is stop being so fat?

Bullshit.

An article in the June 2005 Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported that teens who perceive themselves as very underweight or very overweight were between 230% and 250% more likely to have suicidal ideations compared to those who perceive themselves to be the “right weight.”

And that’s not even considering the eating disorders among teenagers now with anorexia nervosa being deadlier among teenagers than obesity. You’ll also recall that the former chaplain for the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta told CHOA directly that self-harm and eating disorders caused by bullying is the much bigger problem facing kids today.

Gay kids have It Gets Better, and what to do fat kids get?

Keep in mind, this is actually the kinder, gentler version. Left on the cutting room floor is the part where, after hanging her head in shame, Bobby’s mom looks into his eyes and says, “It’s because God hates you, Bobby.”

But these kinds of cruel, in-your-face ads are necessary, CHOA insists.

“It has to be harsh. If it’s not, nobody’s going to listen,” says Linda Matzigkeit, vice president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the pediatric hospital running the campaign.

I pointed out yesterday, CHOA justifies this campaign as a “wake up call” since, according to their research, 75% of Georgia’s parents don’t know… something… about fat kids. CHOA can’t seem to keep its message straight, as we just had this exchange:

And yet, in the video with Bobby, the warning appears to indicate something else entirely.

Which is it, CHOA? Are parents unaware of their child’s official fatty status or are parents unaware that there’s a childhood obesity problem? Because those are two very different issues.

After repeatedly requesting this “survey” that CHOA did, the results of which seem to be the total justification for targeting fat kids, I finally got a partial answer, albeit from our own vesta.

From ABC News:

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta chose the straightforward approach after its survey of two towns in Georgia found that 50 percent of parents did not know childhood obesity was a problem and 75 percent of parents with obese children did not think their child was overweight.

CHOA decided to print ads insulting and degrading fat children, shaming them for being too big, and telling them that the bullying can stop once they lose the weight. That decision was based on a survey of two towns in Georgia, which they have turned into “75% of Georgia parents” not knowing that childhood obesity is a problem.

Here’s what I want to know from CHOA: how was this sample taken? Was it representative? Were these interviews done in person, door-to-door, or over the phone? Exactly which two towns did they choose? What are they demographics for the people who answered your questions? What is their education level, socio-economic status? What were the questions you asked and what answers were they allowed to choose from? Finally, where are the results of this study that justify your cruel and hostile campaign against fat children?

These unanswered questions, along with the sketchy way in which the results are have been repeatedly misrepresented, are just another piece in the puzzle. Do you want to find out the answers? Don’t care what the answers are because you just want them to tear down these billboards?

Then help us put pressure on CHOA. Join our Facebook Group, Stop Strong4Life’s Fat Shaming Campaign, which is organizing our response to CHOA.

Also, I now have the most accurate phone numbers for three contacts at CHOA, including Linda Matzigkeit, who justified the harshness of the campaign for NPR. I have done some phone sleuthing and located the most direct line they have, which will reach their respective administrative assistants (except McClellands, which goes to his voicemail

Linda Matzigkeit (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Vice President of CHOA
404 785 7824 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
linda.matzigkeit@choa.org

Stephanie Walsh (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Medical Director of CHOA
404 785 6104 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
stephanie.walsh@choa.org

Kevin McClelland (who they direct you to for complaints about the billboards)
Public Relations Director for CHOA
404 785 7600
kevin.mcclelland@choa.org

Children’s Foundation
404-785-4483
choagiving@choa.org

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