Oh, Camden. Once the happy home of goths, punks, and what Av Lav would have referred to as sk8er bois, over the summer a newer and stranger alternative type has moved into the neighbourhood – The Apples and Pears family. Otherwise known as the patronising, thick as shit, fat stereotype family.
This is Mrs Apple-Pear. LOOK AT HER. Let her burn out your retinas with her gelatinous jelly baby body and her vacant expressionless face, eerily reminiscent of a blow-up doll. Mrs Apple-Pear has a problem, and that problem my friends is that she’s ‘curvy’. Clearly too scared to mention the words fat or obese, Camden Council and the company responsible for the ads creation, Gingernut Creative, have decided that curvy means the same thing.
There are so many problems with this ad that it’s hard to know where to start, but how about with all those women who are curvaceous but don’t have any issues with obesity or bad health? What about all those women who just naturally have bigger tits or hips and have never felt the need to go on a diet in their lives? What about them, Camden? Their appropriation of the word to fit their evils schemes shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise though, it’s been used to attack women for years, either as a thinly veiled insult directed at those deemed too large, or as a badge of honour smashed over the heads of those deemed too thin and not ‘real’ enough.
For those members of the public who’ve managed to avoid the word though, the poster helpfully spells it out for you, just in case you, like the characters, are thick as shit. The whole style of the campaign does make you wonder what the design team think of their audience. By their very nature, public health campaigns like this are aimed at ordinary, working people and if this is what Gingernut Creative and Camden Council think will appeal to the ‘common woman/man’ they clearly don’t think much of them.
Everything about Mrs Apple-Pear screams YOU’RE A STUPID FAT IDIOT! From the sex-aid face, to the bow in her hair and the cat adorned handbag. Even the language points to the fact that she has the attention-span of a gnat and isn’t capable of looking after herself. If she’s not calorie-counting, she’s going on fad diets and hopping on and off the scales (though I’m surprised she can even hop given how ‘curvy’ she is). In fact the whole poster seems to rest on the assumption that all curvaceous women are constantly dieting but are crap at it.
Mr Apple-Pear on the other hand, well, he’s another matter entirely! Unlike his wifey he actually has a discernible job, he’s a builder (because that’s what all working-class men do, isn’t it?) and he isn’t gender stereotyped by colour, though presumably this is just to avoid him blending in with the background. Unfortunately like his wife though, he also seems to be the bearer of a very little brain, a moron who wouldn’t know what a vegetable was if it smacked him in his wobbly tango-man tummy. He isn’t ‘curvy’ though, oh no, he’s bloke so therefore he’s ‘big-boned’ and has always felt bigger than his family and friends, poor old Mr Apple-Pear.
It’s easy to see what Camden and Gingernut Creative were trying to do here, but it doesn’t make the fact they’ve got it so hideously wrong excusable. Clearly intent on the softly, softly approach, with phrases like love-handles and big-boned they were obviously trying to zone in on the language people use to shrug off their weight problems and protect themselves from the comments of others. It’s also clear that growing levels of obesity, whether in Camden or anywhere in the UK, need to be tackled urgently, but by introducing these ‘cuddly, friendly and cute characters’ (their words not mine) Camden Council are only succeeding in patronising whole swathes of the British public, and inadvertently perhaps, making everyone go out and buy a massive and gloriously fattening bag of Jelly Babies.