Tag Archives: billboards

Fighting Billboards with Billboards: I STAND Conjures Grassroots Viral Magic

Lynne Murray says:

An amazing online effort raised $12,083 in the 24 hours of February 2nd to set up billboards with positive images and messages aimed at fostering health through self-esteem to fight hateful billboards targeting fat kids.

It all started in spring of 2011 with the billboards in Georgia aimed at humiliating fat kids in the supposed name of “health.”

Advocates of Heath at Every Size, including Body Impolitic, saw the billboards as an invitation to bully fat kids. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) “called for the removal of these damaging billboards in March, 2011.” But a recent NAAFA press release says, “since that time” we have learned that Georgia Children’s Health Alliance has committed to spending $5 million over the next five years on this negative Strong4Life campaign.”

Then, like a miracle of grassroots magic the I STAND campaign began and mustered a virtual digital army of positive images and messages in an effort to counter the bullying billboards.

Pattie Thomas at New Year’s Revolutions Resources invited people to “Join us in showing the world there is better use of Photoshop® than telling bullies it is okay to target fat kids.”

Jennifer Johanssen has created a video slideshow derived from the I STAND photos. It’s long at 18 minutes, but the images and statements were so powerful, I couldn’t stop watching.

I STAND! from Jennifer Jonassen on Vimeo.

Jennifer says:

This is my thank you to Marilyn Wann, Ragen Chastain, Atchka Fatty, and everyone involved with the I STAND movement who are making history! I dedicate this to anyone out there being bullied or in pain. Take strength in these images! They are the tip of the iceberg and represent only a few of the people out there who support you. YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE.

For those who don’t do online video, Carrie Padian has created (and often updated) a Tumblr page for the images at I Stand Against Weight Bullying.

Kickboxing fat woman, caption: I stand for loving yourself today.

Carrie says:

What I DO know is that kids everywhere cannot be hated for their own good, that you cannot shame someone to health and happiness. This is true for adults and especially true for kids; once they start on the cycle of shame, diets, unreal expectations and all the rest, it’s very difficult to get away from.

The “I STAND…” responses moved and inspired me with the inclusiveness of the support–i.e, no one was considered too fat/thin/young/old/heathy/disabled to offer supportive images and statements (including a rolling spotted fat kitty, who won my heart).

The idea of putting up counter billboards seemed impossible, but viral media and several hundred positive-minded activists begged to disagree!

SF Weekly took note of the controversy and the activist response. I can testify that the activists are located all over and not limited to the SF Bay area.

Ragen Chastain at Dances With Fat puts it well when she says:

Bullies count on our fear and their money. Putting up a billboard sends the message that we aren’t scared, and that we can accomplish something big. It tells these bullies that they can’t take our lunch money any more.

100% of the money raised goes directly to the project. Our billboards need to go up, and theirs need to come down.

I am so proud of and inspired by these efforts.

Too Many Interesting Topics!

Laurie and Debbie say:

We were going to write our usual single-topic post today, but we kept sending each other too many interesting options. So here are a bunch of body image articles that we hope will interest you as much as they interest us:

Sins Invalid is a performance project on disability and sexuality. Sparkymonster linked to this post at Dis/positional featuring excerpts from Matt Fraser’s performance at the 2009 performance series in San Francisco.

It’s really good art and a powerful expression of the issues. We really want to see what he does next!

In the same post, Sparkymonster points out American Able, artist Holly Norris’s social commentary pastiches on a series American Apparel ads. Norris, and her model Jes Sachse, “intend to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are invisibilized in advertising and mass media.” Norris has protected her work against reproduction around the Web and the blogosphere, so be sure and click through and take a look.

The whole feminist blogosphere is talking about the horrific procedures being done through the Medical College of Cornell University, in which babies who have large clitorises are subjected to surgeries and very very nasty follow-up procedures as young girls to “determine that they still experience sexual sensitivity.” (Very triggering information at the link.) Not only is this wrong in all the ways we’re sure you can imagine, it also (in the case of some of the young girls) disguises the reality of intersexuality into a vague and unfocused “abnormality” which is, without data, considered a “psychological risk.” Bird of Paradox, in one of many fine responses, focuses on the intersexuality issue.

I have to say that I’m completely mystified why the writers of any article detailing such shocking treatment and human rights abuses against intersex children should feel it necessary to leave out the salient fact that the subjects of the research are intersex. But one thing is clear: if we, as a society, are going to condone the treatment of intersex people like worthless lab rats and then deliberately airbrush them out of high-profile news stories about the injustices they’ve suffered, then how are we ever going to be able to start making amends for the human rights abuses inflicted against them in the name of medical science?

On a related note, professor and novelist Nnedi Okorafor writes about African reactions to her new novel, Who Fears Death, which approaches female genital cutting from a different perspective.

I am very proud of my Igbo-ness. However, culture is alive and it is fluid. It is not made of stone nor is it absolute. Some traditions/practices will be discarded and some will be added, but the culture still remains what it is. It is like a shape-shifting octopus that can lose a tentacle but still remain a shape-shifting octopus (yes, that image is meant to be complicated). Just because I believe that aspects of my culture are problematic does not mean I am “betraying” my people by pointing out those problems.

If you don’t think all bodies are beautiful, does that mean you have to think some of them are ugly enough to decapitate and replace with advertising? Interbest Outdoor Billboards has a new campaign to fill their billboard space that Shakesville finds especially disturbing.

picture of a white supersize woman in profile, wearing a white bra and panties. The photograph is cropped at the top so you can only see the tiniest bit of her chin. The caption is "The sooner you advertise here, the better." On the right, the same picture in the distance, on a billboard.

What we notice here is that despite the snapshot quality of the photograph, for anyone who can shed their preconceptions, she’s attractive. One of the two other photos in the campaign (which you can see at the link) is a white man with his hands behind his back, so that his hairy chest and not-terribly big potbelly show over his white briefs. The photograph is cropped below his shoulders. He looks just fine to us. The campaign also includes a third photo, which is a close-up of an unshaved man picking his nose which, as Melissa at Shakesville points out, implies that “being fat is just a bad habit you don’t have the will or courtesy to break.”

Last week, Debbie posted about Neli, the young man who was arrested for being autistic and black. In the comments of that post, his mother pointed to this video, in which Neli tells his own story.

On the occasion of New York’s Gay Pride Day, the New York Times published a feature on Storme DeLarverie,, now in a nursing home in Brooklyn, “who fought the police in 1969 at the historic riot at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village that kicked off the gay rights movement.” The article gives us some background on Ms. Delarverie and also reminds readers that “the first gay pride parade in 1970 was not a parade at all but a protest marking the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.”

Let us close with a fat-positive U.S. government stamp. There’s a nice short biography of Kate Smith at this link.

Kate Smith, famous singer, wearing an evening gown, and smiling at the camera