The Vagenda

What Fresh Fat-Shaming Hell, Camden Council?



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.
- ND

7 thoughts on “What Fresh Fat-Shaming Hell, Camden Council?

  1. Is it really so difficult to ask in a direct way? Would “Are you overweight/(morbidly) obese?” be horribly offensive or something? Yes, I am “big boned”, I have broad shoulders, ribs and hips. I’m also a healthy/slightly low 54 kilos and 168 cm, nowhere near overweight.

  2. I like how it suggests that if you refer to yourself as curvy or big boned you are actually just kidding yourself and are really horribly unattractive and unhealthy. And like cats.

  3. I think our society needs to embrace the word fat and stop pissing about trying to call it something else. I’m fat and I’m happy about it because I like how I look. Would I like to lose some weight? Maybe one day but I’ve be more likely to get help from an organisation that just said “need to lose weight? Come talk to us!”, just like I’d be more likely to buy plus sized clothes from new look if they call that section “fatties” rather than something so fucking patronizing as “Inspire”!!! Fat isn’t a swear word, it’s a way to describe something or yourself just like thin, short, tall, etc

  4. This actually makes me want to cry. A lot of people have use the word curvy to describe themselves. Even if they are not overweight or obese. Curvy is a good thing. A very good thing. Fuck you Camden fucking Council. Urgh. No.

  5. I hate the misuse of the word “curvy.” I am curvy. I have big hips and boobs and a small waist. There’s at least freakin’ 12 inch difference between my waist and hip measurements). I’m also a size 10, but that’s kind of beside the point: “curvy” and “big boned” are shapes, not sizes. I could be a size 20 or a size 6 and still be curvy.

    And yeah, these ads are incredibly patronising. As others have said, surely a simple “Need to lose weight?” would have done?

  6. Apples and bleedin’ pears?!?!?! I am a definite ‘pear’ but have never been larger than a size 12 and don’t diet. Sod off Camden. Just say ‘Oi fatties, more fruit, veg and exercise. And it wouldn’t hurt you skinnies to do this either’. Done.

  7. The stupid thing is, it’s not about shape (apple, pear whatever) but it’s also not about size (6-22 or bigger or smaller) because you can be a healthy size 18 or an incredibly unhealthy size 12. It’s about the fact we need to be exercising more. What would help with that would be making PE class at school actually fun and not a fat-shaming competitive horrendous experience!