Positive Healthism is Still Healthism: Say No

Note: The second image contains suicidal imagery.

This is what Amy hears when healthy lifestyle campaigners come to her school. This is a drawing from her diary about her first day on her journey towards better health.

This is what Andrea sees in her mind when she hears the same message.

Think twice. Positive messages aren’t so positive to the targets of that message. Positive healthism is still healthism. Say no.

Do you agree with this campaign? I would be happy to design a graphic for you. Just leave a message and an image in the comments below and I will make one. You can also reach me at joannadeadwinter@gmail.com. If you don’t have an idea, I will surprise you.:)



  1. Patsy Nevins · October 11, 2012

    I agree with this message. I understand what you are saying & it is the same thing I try to say & have tried to make people understand so many times. All of these so-called ‘health initiatives’, “Let’s Move” campaigns are just not bad because they are targeting fat kids, they are bad for all kids, telling them that there is a certain way to be, a certain way to live, that is right. On a larger scale, they are bad for all of us, intrusive, nannying, campaigns to rob human beings of their autonomy, the right to live in their bodies as they wish. People are guilted, marginalized, blamed for not conforming & then blamed for everything wrong with the world & those who are susceptible & whose sense of self is not well-established, which is especially true of children, are often triggered into self-destructive, self-hating behaviors, into believing that they can never be good enough or do things right enough.

    Healthism is indeed healthism, however it is expressed & regardless of who the targets are. Leave the children alone to develop self-esteem, healthy body image, & a normal, relaxed relationship with food & their bodies, & to make their own choices about how, how much & when to move their bodies. Leave ALL of us alone to do the same things, &, please, nannies, do not keep telling us how much soda we can drink & had bad/unhealthy/irresponsible or whatever we are if we drink it, or eat or drink anything else. And please stop marginalizing & shaming those of us who cannot or do not want to be athletic & stop assigning every fault & problem in this world, from behavior issues to bad health to security risks to body size.

  2. dmd@udel.edu · October 12, 2012

    I have tried, I really have, to find good in the whole “healthy kids” thing the FLOTUS is on–and when the first actual grocery store in 40 years opens up in a notoriously tough city just across the state line in PA because (at least partially) of her pushing efforts to combat the problem of urban food deserts, there is good stuff to say. But it is never good or right or useful to be telling children that there is one or another single way to be, and, by implication, to be worthy/loveable/acceptable. It’s just ugly. We already do too much of it in systematized, institutionalized education–some of it unavoidable, some just mean and unthinking–so laying new layers on is just plain risking breaking more spirits. Provide good, unjunked-up food and a range of not-always-competetive movement options then SHUT UP. It’d be awfully nice if educators and school boards would finally learn the difference between education and indoctrination.

    • joannadeadwinter · October 12, 2012

      I appreciate this comment, and I’m glad I’m not alone in this. We all have the right to our opinions and to advocate for causes that are important to us. The problem is that students in school are a captive audience and “testing” out interventions of them, when they cannot consent, cannot opt out, and often cannot even understand what is happening, is wrong and dangerous. You say you’ve honestly tried and can’t find any good in MO’s healthy kids campaign, and while you might feel disappointed at this fact, I actually am glad you said that. That alone makes you miles ahead of most fat acceptance activists because you take a real stand against indoctrination of powerless students.

      I will say, though, that I’m not sure it goes far enough. I’m not convinced that there actually is a problem with inactivity, diets, or food deserts. I think this is another misconception cooked up to invite culture warriors and nannies further into our lives. That said, if poor people decide that we want more options or different options for local food shopping, better roads and sidewalks, or better playgrounds/rec services, that is something poor people need to consent to and do on their own. It can’t be forcefully spoon fed by privileged elites.

  3. Pingback: Fat is not a video game | closetpuritan

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