People Pissed; Disney Forced To Close Exhibit Because It Shamed Fat Kids
The “happiest place on earth” has some people pretty unhappy right now. Walt Disney World recently opened a new exhibit which featured overweight icons to help teach kids about the importance of healthy habits, but instead of inspiring others, it just pissed them off.
The exhibit called Habit Heroes, is located at Disney's Epcot park. It featured characters such as Lead Bottom (“not enough exercise”), Snacker (“too much fatty, processed food”) and Stinkbomb (“bad hygiene”). It also had animated superheroes”Will Power” and “Callie Stenics” take guests on a tour which depicted overweight kids who were unhealthy because they ate too much junk food and watched too much TV. Critics said these characters shamed overweight kids and further stigmatized them as being lazy with poor eating habits. As a result, the exhibit is now closed.
The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance issued a statement saying they were shocked by all of this:
We're appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination.
Peggy Howell, a spokeswoman for the group, agreed and added:
I was really disturbed to see the most negative habits were attached to really fat bodies. These pictures further the stigma against people of higher body weight.
Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine, told the Calgary Herald:
It's so dumbfounding it's unreal. I just can't believe somebody out there thought it was a good idea to pick up where the school bullies left off and shame kids on their vacation.
Meanwhile, Blue Cross and Blue Shield–who partnered with Disney to create the exhibit, said their intent was anything but negative. Blue Cross spokesman John W. Herbkersman said:
Our goal is to ensure that the attraction conveys a positive message about healthy lifestyles in a fun and empowering way. To work on further improving and refining the experience, the attraction is closed for the time being. We look forward to officially opening it soon.
There are definitely two sides to this issue, and while Disney is to be applauded for wanting to promote and teach healthy habits, there is a huge sensitivity to doing so. Especially when families are on vacation and are not in the mood for people making them feel bad or stressed about who they are or how they look.
Disney has been good, up until now, about taking a softer approach to the issue of childhood obesity by including healthier meal options at their restaurants which often include fruit, veggies and milk. Now if we could just get them to ditch those huge turkey legs everyone walks around gnawing on (which can rack up 1,000 calories and a day's worth of fat, just in case you were wondering).