Dear PETA: Please lose the blubber from your collective brains

8 years ago

Hey, if you live in Jacksonville, Florida, you may have already seen PETA's latest billboard, which depicts an overweight woman spilling out of her bikini and underneath "Save the Whales" declares, "Lose the blubber: Go vegetarian."


I'm sure that scores and scores of people looked up at that and immediately gave up eating meat. Well done, PETA!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I have to make a joke to stem the sputtering indignation that I feel over the fact that PETA has, once again, put their supposed quest for animal rights ahead of basic decency towards their fellow humans. And I say that as a slender omnivore with a vegetarian daughter, not that any of that should matter. If I thought for one second that my kid chose to go vegetarian out of some sort of weird fear of being fat, I'd be shoving prime rib down her gullet faster than you could say "all things in moderation."

The fat phobia and degradation apparent in this campaign makes me sick. The fact that PETA then makes that into the cornerstone of their reasoning behind eschewing animal products is convoluted at best and deceptive at worst. And that this billboard is hardly the first time PETA has totally missed the mark and just made it clear that the organization has a basic disregard for humans despite their supposedly dogged devotion to honoring life makes this more than an "oops."

Really, do women need more help in hating themselves for not conforming to the expected societal norm for body size? Does encouraging that hatred somehow help preserve animals?

The mind boggles.

The blogosphere is bristling with criticism over PETA's misstep.

Feministing calls for an apology.

Dabitch at Adland says:

PETA, you have finally done it. You have made me change my mind about something. Congratulations. However, it won't be to your liking. I'm going out right now get some Kobe Steak for dinner wearing my endangered species ocelot fur coat and if any one of your mink-releasing vegan followers dares to as much as sneer in my direction I'm making a hat out of their bony ass.

Soap Box of a Very Liberal Woman comments:

I wish I knew the brilliant person in marketing who came up with this. Shock value, yes. Effectiveness, not so much. Will it make fat people vegetarians, probably not.

Laura at Adventures of a Young Feminist offers tons of great links, as well as summing it up succinctly:

Sure it's possible for some people to lose weight with a vegetarian diet, but certainly not everyone loses weight by being a vegetarian (like me!). Strike one. Vegetarianism shouldn't be a decision based on weight loss. Strike two. There is nothing wrong with being fat. Sometimes it is out of a person's control. Other times it's a conscious choice. Whatever the case, people can still be beautiful if they are fat. Strike three. And sooooo many other things wrong with this billboard... Using women's objectified bodies to promote the personal, moral decision of vegetarianism is immoral in and or itself. Also using the slogan "Save the Whales" in reference to a woman's body is dehumanizing. Apparently fat women are just whales that need to be saved by people from PETA by forcing them to go vegetarian.

On PETA's own official blog announcing the campaign, a commenter says:

Wow. Even though vegetarian, I will not support PETA simply for campaigns like this.
Cruelty free means cruelty free.
This is way out of bounds.

However I will be sure to point out this offensive campaign to my friends and collegues so they won't support PETA either.

Way to go!

More PETA in pictures (some NSFW):

PETA Protests Against Chicken Industry

And Andrea Grimes at SF Weekly's Heartless Doll says PETA is saving the animals and shaming the humans:

Poor taste and broken hearts aside, why does PETA believe that calling people "whales" and pointing out their "blubber"--equating humans with animals in a most derogatory way--would make anyone throw out the meat in their fridge and buy a tofu steak?

The only question I have after all of this is: Is anyone still a PETA supporter? Anyone? Bueller?

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir also blogs about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.

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