Only three weeks after launching the Habit Heroes exhibit at its Florida theme park, Disney has been accused of fat-shaming victims of weight problems. According to USA Today, The National Association of Fat Acceptance accused Disney of using the tool of shame to reach children. Critics have virulently lashed out at the exhibit, calling it ineffective and insensitive and Disney has responded by closing down the anti-obesity exhibit, closing down the exhibit's website for maintenance, and considering a re-launch, reported Yahoo.
Disney collaborated with Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, a company that provides solutions to promote healthcare. The park's interactive exhibit and website initially aimed at educating children about healthy eating habits, by portraying the unsavory habits through villains. Lead Bottom, The Glutton and Snacker the villains are chunky with over exaggerated bellies, and reinforce negative stereotypes, while the Will Power the hero is trim and muscular and good. The message received by children may be that heavier people are bad people while slimmer people are good people, which may actually encourage bullying.
It's so dumbfounding, it's unreal, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine, told the Calgary Herald. 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.
The exhibit may also push the idea that weight problems are solerly the victim's fault, which oversimplifies the situation.
The exhibit dumbed down childhood obesity to a choice, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a family doctor and founder of Ottawa's Bariatric Medical Institute, said to Yahoo. As if kids, or adults, go to bed at night thinking hot damn, I'm going to be lazy and gluttonous rather than active and healthy.
The official opening has been postponed indefinitely, and no details have been released about the changes that will be made.
The attraction is currently closed as we work to further refine the experience, Kathleen Prihoda, Disney's media relations manager told Yahoo on Wednesday. Our goal with Habit Heroes is to make sure it conveys a positive message about healthy lifestyles in a fun way.