But… but… your health?

Published May 29, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I came across this vintage ad on Tumblr:

Lucky Strike

Pretty full on isn’t it?  Back in the 20’s/30’s/40’s (and indeed since), smoking was endorsed as a method of keeping thin, or getting thin.

It wasn’t just for the ladies either:

Lucky Strike Man

We of course now know just how damaging to our health smoking is, and that it’s “benefits” for weight loss are most certainly not going to outweigh the damage it does to our health.  However back in the day, cigarette advertising was peppered with endorsements from doctors and “scientific studies”.  Face the facts, as the above ad says.

Lady Doctor


Even the dentist jumped in on the game:

Dentists too

But what about things that are endorsed now, even by the medical profession, as life saving ways to lose that weight that is killing you?  Diet drugs, shakes, replacement meals and snacks, herbal “remedies” and other potions, lotions, pills and powders.  We’re told they’re safe ways to lose weight, but we’ve already seen some ripped off the market because of deaths, and one look at the ingredient list of any of the non-prescription items will raise a whole pile of questions about what the hell that stuff is.

I myself was put on prescription speed to suppress my supposedly voracious appetite so that I would lose weight (with no heed paid to the fact that I actually wasn’t eating enough).  There’s a whole blog post in that little episode.

Let’s not even get started on weight loss surgery.  Then there’s the simpler ideas of removing whole food groups, or only existing on one type of food, while adding manic exercising into the mix.  All of this is supposedly for the health of fat patients.

Of course, a lot of the advertising campaigns of the past were pseudoscience, and carefully worded and crafted interpretations of what the medical profession had to day.  But is current media and marketing any different?  Have you heard the list of side effects and “results not typical” in a standard American drug advertisement, put there to prevent consumers from suing the arse off these companies?  How much of what is presented to us as science and fact right now is spin?

But we buy it.  So do a lot of everyday members of the medical profession.

How many more of these things have to come out as deadly or dangerous before we stop focusing on using extreme methods to lose weight, and focusing on general health, regardless of body size.  If “science” and “facts” were wrong about smoking, who’s to say it isn’t also wrong about all of the extreme methods of losing weight that are sold to us today?

Personally, I don’t believe it’s all about the health of fat patients one iota.  I believe it’s a moral panic around obesity, and that it’s purely about disgust and repulsion for the fat body.  A disgust so vicious that many in the medical profession would rather put fat people at risk of disease, disability and death to possibly get that weight off, than just focus on getting their patients feeling good and improving their health.  Fat has been so vilified that it has become standard practice to get fat patients to lose weight no matter what it does to their physical health, their self esteem, their emotional health.

Getting thin  has become more important than getting healthy.  Losing weight has become more important than just eating a balanced diet and being active.

Not to mention that someone out there is making lots, and lots, and lots of money from getting fat people to buy all of this crap.

Makes you think back to these ads again doesn’t it?


No one can deny huh?  Would that be just like no one can deny that being fat is bad for your health?

7 comments on “But… but… your health?

  • Gah, but what else it tells me is that the pressure to be thin has existed at least as long ago as those ads; or they wouldn’t have done so much marketing around it.

    Shivers, eep.

  • Yep, doctors endorsed smoking back then to lose weight. Before the schizophrenic ad-driven society we have now came into fruition.
    Just like how nowadays they make it so obvious they get commissions from bariatric clinics by telling every single fat patient to get lap-band surgery which although has a lower death risk than diet drugs and other kinds of surgeries, eliminates one’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods they eat. Which will lead to all kinds of health problems down the road, regardless of weight.

    But health is the objective in the madcap quest to make everyone smaller, riiiiiight? Ugh. Just like how I was told to stay on diet pills but lower my dosage because they could be hard on my heart. I never felt better after I stopped taking them and stopped seeing that doctor.

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