Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had and will ever have. It’s made even more difficult by the constant interference of media. Especially when it’s bad media. When the media makes me #ashamed to be in the media business.

Why am I hashtagging #ashamed? Because of this:

The State of Georgia has taken it upon themselves to place billboards such as this all over in hopes that it will shame parents, or their children, into looking at their weight issues and make them “deal with it”. My friend Leah brought it to my attention again, here: http://www.mamavation.com/2012/01/shaming-the-fat-kid-is-not-solving-the-obesity-epidemic.html.

Quite frankly Georgia, you piss me off.

Do you know what it’s like to be President of the “but you have such a pretty face” club?

I do.

Do you know what it’s like to be told “I’d date you, but you’re too heavy”?

I do.

Do you know what it’s like to be told that if you lose thirty pounds, someone will buy you a new wardrobe?

I do.

Do you know what it’s like for your boyfriend’s mother to look at a photo of you and say “she’s pretty, but don’t you think she could lose some weight”?

I do.

Do you know what it’s like being told “I can trust you with my boyfriend, because he’d never date someone like you”?

I do.

Do you know what it’s like to be out in public with your husband and people don’t assume you’re together because of your weight?

I do.

I’ve had a weight problem my entire life. My sister has always been much slimmer than me. I ate less, exercised more and yet was shopping for “husky” jeans while she was shopping “for cute” clothes. Believe me, that’s enough to damage the psyche of any child. Throw in the above and a million more things I could add and there is damage no child will ever recover from.

Believe me, my weight in the beginning was not a lifestyle issue. No one in my very large, very active family was heavy except my paternal grandmother.

As an adult, having seen these advertisements on the interstate in Georgia, I was gobsmacked. The audacity of these legislative suits who thought an ad campaign shaming children, embarrassing them for their weight problems, was a good idea is beyond reprehension.

Do not get me wrong, childhood obesity is a serious problem. Shaming a child with a weight problem is not how you deal with it. The shame makes the weight worse. Don’t believe me? I know what I’m talking about. The shame makes that child seek comfort. You know how that child finds comfort?


It’s a twisted, two-headed snake. You have to have food to live, but not live for it. However, it doesn’t matter how smart the child is. Food causes a chemical reaction in the body akin to a high.

An opioid is a chemical that works by binding to opioid receptors, which are found principally in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. The receptors in these organ systems mediate both the beneficial effects and the side effects of opioids.

Let that sink in.

Food for me is a drug. I didn’t realize it until I was sitting in bed the other night reading Dr. David Kessler’s book “The End of Overeating”. However, it’s not like I’m eating all the time, or binging. It’s the opposite. I have to have my trigger foods in the house.

When I have a food that is high in fat and sugar, I can’t stop eating it. I know I’m full. My stomach and brain don’t make the connection.

I’m a drug addict needing that high.

But, in order to get that high, since I was already accustomed to the previous level, I have to eat more. Even though my stomach is uncomfortably full, my brain doesn’t register satiety. It’s like a smoking gun and I like the smell.

Robert Downey, Jr. described addiction as having a loaded gun in your mouth and liking the taste. He is right on. I like the metal in my mouth, finger on the trigger. It tastes good.

Seeing this happen to other children is UNACCEPTABLE.

If this campaign speaks to you, and you’re moved by my words, then join us. Let your opinion be heard tonight on Twitter and Facebook. Let them know what you think, how you feel. Join my friend Leah Segedie and others as she leads us in a Twitter chat tonight from 9-10pm EST using the hashtag #ashamed.

If you would like to voice your opinion you can do it directly AT The Strong 4Life Campaign.

Twitter: @Strong_4_Life

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/S4LGA



  1. You are amazing! Phenomenal post that will help others.

  2. Thank you. It’s hard step, but one that must be taken. I want to use my platforms for good and that means testing my own comfort level.

  3. You are absolutely beautiful… inside and out! This post is beautifully made as well. Explains it the way it needs to be explained, the way anyone should be able to understand. Love you!!

  4. You speak for so many, including the person typing this comment. At one time in my life I was called ‘Rajean the String Bean.’ It has been a struggle ever since. Words matter. I’m sharing yours and I’ll join you in the twitter chat. With love ~
    rajean recently posted..Ode to Peanut Butter

  5. I don’t think shame is the key to change. I can’t believe this campaign exists. I hope getting the word out will make an impact.

  6. “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” That’s the tagline on the second image? Disgusting! I’m rarely speechless, but I’m pretty sure these posters did the impossible.

    Shame on Georgia.

  7. Great post. I have had this campaign on my mind a lot lately. Disturbing. Truly.

  8. An absolutely incredible post, Lisa. We should all be ashamed that the state of Georgia thinks a campaign such as this one is even remotely helpful.
    Jessica @FoundtheMarbles recently posted..How She Found the Marbles: Asking for Help

  9. So sad that they chose that route. So many other ways to go about it, and this is not one of them.
    Melanie Edwards ModernMami recently posted..The Power of Storytelling

  10. These ads were so obviously written by a man. Lisa, you’re a truly beautiful writer and I love how you’ve woven honesty into such a compelling post about an ad campaign gone wrong.

  11. Thank you for posting about this. Great words and the #shameful part isn’t the kids, it’s the adults that have chosen to humiliate them.

  12. Nice post. I love that you shared your pain on this. And while I do think it’s an insensitive campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually had some success in terms of parents managing their children’s diets. Because even though there is a percentage of people who, like you, are at the mercy of biology, I’m sure there is a huge percentage of children who are overweight because of parental ignorance. Ignorance is why so many people smoke too. But smoking has decreased over the years – partly because of campaigns that are not very nice to look at. Shock is sometimes necessary to open a window to enlightenment. Child obesity is a real problem in America. It just is. And too many of these cases are the result of ignorance. If a campaign can begin the process of enlightenment before it’s too late – then it can’t be considered too bad of a thing. Despite it being insensitive to some. Ignorance really isn’t bliss.

    And I totally disagree with Becca’s comment. I don’t think you can assume a specific gender wrote this, or ANY ad campaign. But, you never know.

    Again, this is a very nice post, Lisa. Well done. Great intentions. I just think that maybe, just maybe, your direct, personal experiences might affect how you feel about what *may* eventually be an effective message. For some. I get why you’d be upset. But I also wonder what % of children who are obese (or becoming obese) are victims of biology, and what % are obese because their parents don’t really know any better. I believe that’s who this campaign is going after. Unfortunately, the other kids are collateral damage – in what is a very delicate battle for the health of little kids who don’t drive decision-making in their families.
    Jim Mitchem recently posted..Butterfly

  13. this post was brave and amazing. as someone who always had a weight problem myself, i can relate to so much of what you said. someone wouldn’t date me because i wasn’t a size 0, 2 or 4 and even a 4 was too heavy for them. i was told, so many times, that i have a beautiful face but i’d be so much prettier if i lose some weight. when i hear my daughters, who are thin, talk about wanting to lose weight, i die inside a little because how i wish that, when i was younger, i looked like them. this shaming parents by showing heavy children is a below the belt tactic that i can NOT stand behind in the least. it’s horrible and offensive.

  14. Lisa, thank you for sharing your story! Self confidence in children is critical and it shouldn’t be tied to their weight. Sadly it is. We all need to help.


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