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Nothing Has Changed

Sociological images has posted a British PSA from 1967, in three parts.

In the PSA, it's assumed that fat people just need to be educated. However, even in the 1960s, the idea that any fat woman didn't know the common wisdom about nutrition - chapter and verse - must have been laughable.

Heritability is mentioned and confirmed, yet the PSA continues to imply that being fat is entirely due to poor eating habits and inactivity. In fact, it actually shows a fat woman eating sweets while talking about heritability. Am I sick for finding that hilarious? So transparent!

Of course, the most pathetic figure of all is the fat girl from the single parent home. Clearly, she's doomed to a life of shame and isolation.






The worst thing about this PSA is that, in 2010 - more than 40 years later! - most people, including doctors, don't have a more sophisticated understanding of weight regulation in the human body. It's still "eat a healthy diet and exercise, and you'll be thin!"

Since watching these can be depressing, try playing a game of "spot the stereotype." I know there's a lot to talk about here that I haven't touched on.

Fat Kids Targeted | YES! Fistbump, Secret HAES Handshake

Alyssa October 4th, 2010 | Link | Fat Hatred Is Not New

Thanks for this post. Although it is British, I imagine there are plenty of U.S. films from the same era, the early 1960s. I am reminded of the saying, those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it. The social prejudice against fat people in Western countries like the U.S.and U.K. has a long and ugly history. I grew up in the 1950's and early 1960s, and I can attest to the fat-hating messages and practices. Elementary students were regularly weighed in school, in front of other students. I recall the shame and humiliation I felt as the heaviest student in class. I was tormented and ostracized by other students for being fat. With the current "epidemic of childhood obesity" campaign, we have tragically come full circle.

strawberry October 4th, 2010 | Link | Some things you'll never see

Some things you'll never see on British television:

"Fat people are lazy leeches, sponging off welfare" accompanied by a picture of Winston Churchill.

"Fat people are the dregs of society and will always be unloved" accompanied by a picture of Queen Victoria.

I'm sure those better versed in history than myself can come up with others. Class issue much?

Not that it isn't a class issue in the US, it's just more obviously so across the "pond".

JeanC's picture
JeanC
October 4th, 2010 | Link | As my hubby puts it "The

As my hubby puts it "The more things change, the more they stay the same". SIGH!

chondros October 4th, 2010 | Link | I found this really

I found this really interesting. So much of this video was spent characterizing and stereotyping fat people that I can only conclude that the characterizing and stereotyping was part of the point. We got to see fat women taking bites of cake between the words of their sentences. Fat children carrying seemingly bottomless bags of chips everywhere they go. Fat men unable to walk up stairs. This video could have been called "Bizarre Lives of the Fat."

Think about it: public service videos about quitting smoking or saying no to drugs or learning to read don't waste a lot of time and energy portraying the smokers or drug addicts or illiterates as unpleasant people or unhappy people or incomplete people. They assume that members of the ad's target group already know what their lives are like. They may present medical information and statistics, or even "this could happen someday" horror stories. But they don't need to tell an exaggerated story about how a certain group of people lives.

After watching this film, I realized how much anti-obesity advertising is concerned not with changing the behavior of actual fat people but with constructing a certain image of The Fat Person -- inept, sad, diffident, lacking in self-awareness -- always eating. always an object of loathing or pity.

Which was a pretty scary revelation. It's creepy to think that the people who pretend to be trying to help you are more interested in making you out to be a freak.

By the way, maybe someone who lives in Britain can answer a question: did English families a generation or two ago really eat their evening meals in subdued silence, without talking or looking at one another? Or was that just another way for this video to make Fat Life look strange and unappealing?

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
October 5th, 2010 | Link | I hadn't thought of it quite

I hadn't thought of it quite that way, but I see what you mean. That is disturbing. It's almost as if the PSA is meant to be a method of shaming and social censure rather than a source of information - much like old videos I've seen on drugs and STDs, honestly.

And of course - those drugs and STDs - they were wiped out long ago. Oh, wait.

worrier October 5th, 2010 | Link | "Which was a pretty scary

"Which was a pretty scary revelation. It's creepy to think that the people who pretend to be trying to help you are more interested in making you out to be a freak."

Yep, God save me from all the people who've tried to "help" me.

Buffpuff's picture
Buffpuff
October 5th, 2010 | Link | I am gobsmacked. Chondros is

I am gobsmacked. Chondros is right on the money. Seriously, this reads like a public information film on behalf of the Fat Stigmatization Party. This film would really be quite funny if I hadn't grown up in exactly this period and country, and if my school too hadn't ensured my parents frogmarched me to the doctor for my first diet sheet. (Actually, scratch that, it's still pretty hilarious but only if shared among like minded souls). I've always tended to think of my childhood dieting experience as fairly unusual, and the negativity I learned to feel about my own body as the result of being brought up by fat, self-loathing, serial-dieting parents but this made me stop and re-evaluate. Who'd've thought Fat Hate Bingo had its genesis in the 60s?!

And, no, my family definitely didn't sit round the table in stoney silence! For a start, we didn't always eat together during the week for a variety of practical reasons. Nor did we eat formally round the table apart from on Christmas Day or unless we were having friends over for dinner, (which happened most weekends), in which case there'd be plenty of animated conversation going on. Outside of the occasional childhood tea party we certainly didn't eat entire meals composed of biscuits and cream cakes like the family in the film. Generally, we ate supper off our laps while watching television, (baaaaaad fat people!), and discussed whatever we happened to be watching. In those days there were only three channels so the entire country would be watching The Six Wives Of Henry Vlll or The Prisoner and discussing it at school or work the following day.

I must also agree wholeheartedly with DeeLeigh about the laughable idea that anyone, particularly the working classes, didn't know a ton about basic nutrition in 1967. Post-WW2 rationing continued into the 50s. The mothers in the film would have been brought up by resourceful parents who were encouraged to grow their own fruit and veg (in their gardens or communal allotments) as part of the war effort. In addition, car ownership was rare; food shopping was done at a collection of small, local shops and markets often on a day to day basis, and home deliveries were unheard of. Home Economics was also taught in schools so children of that era were also taught to cook from scratch.

BabySeal October 6th, 2010 | Link | " "Fat people are lazy

" "Fat people are lazy leeches, sponging off welfare" accompanied by a picture of Winston Churchill.

"Fat people are the dregs of society and will always be unloved" accompanied by a picture of Queen Victoria. "

Oh please, please, can we do it? As a counter campaign to all the crap that gets spewed about fat people? And with a pic of an older, fat Florence Nightingale and the caption "Fat people will never achieve anything in life"?

I'd love it so much. We could take it at an international level, with pics of current and past fat "celebrities" (for lack of a better world... I don't mean celebrities in the vapid sense, but famous people who did great stuff).

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
October 6th, 2010 | Link | Anything along those lines

Anything along those lines that a BFB member sends me, I will post. If you can, make sure any image used is in the public domain. Try Wikipedia Commons.

Beanietude's picture
Beanietude
October 6th, 2010 | Link | Oh cruel, cruel fate... if

Oh cruel, cruel fate... if only Mrs. Brown had heard of saccharine! Eye-wink

Speaking as someone who was a fat child (and yet despite her obvious deformity still won her fair share of school races), I'm intrigued to know what kind of "treatment" was given, in hospital no less, to those who failed to lower their weight on the doctor's orders. Electroshock treatment? Have them sectioned, restrained and a starvation diet enforced? Just how far were they willing to go to "cure" the dreaded fatness?

BabySeal October 6th, 2010 | Link | "I'm intrigued to know what

"I'm intrigued to know what kind of "treatment" was given, in hospital no less, to those who failed to lower their weight on the doctor's orders. Electroshock treatment? Have them sectioned, restrained and a starvation diet enforced? Just how far were they willing to go to "cure" the dreaded fatness?"

I don't know what was done at other facilities/hospitals, but at the auxological center I was stuck in at the age of 8-9 (on the unsolicited advice of my grandfather's cardiologist), if underage patients that didn't lose or gain enough weight according to the medical staff expectations, the routine tactic was to tell their families and relatives not to come visit them till the weight loss/gain was happening at the expected rate. Thank goodness this was the one piece of bulls*** my Mum didn't buy into, and, beside visiting on Sundays - the allowed visiting day - she started sneaking in visits mid-week.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn this happened elsewhere as well.

BabySeal October 6th, 2010 | Link | A further counter-campaign

A further counter-campaign suggestion along the previous famous fat people ideas:

(I'm posting it here because I am totally unable to create the image with the superimposed text, or I'd do it myself)

A picture of Captain Paul Watson with the writing "Fat people are destroying the environment".

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