Actually Fat Can
By Lynn Bye Co Founder and Boss Lady at Fat Lad At The Back
Following 11 complaints, the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) have banned our Fat Can advertising campaign which ran in London earlier this year.
The ASA found that the campaign was likely to cause serious and wide spread offence and that it was not suitable for general placement (essentially may be seen by children).
I accept that children would see the advert however I don't agree that a child would be sophisticated enough to make a connection between our visuals and any word other than CAN'T.
That being said, I can’t deny that we didn’t expect this to be contentious but this is such an important issue that I felt it was justifiable.
A hand full of people said there are better ways of drawing attention to this but I find the words hollow and I don’ think they are credible. I've been running FLAB since 2013 and we are STILL having the same conversations about abuse and attitude.
Someone has to challenge the deeply rooted misconceptions that society has about fat people and the relationship between health and weight and I don’t believe that you can do that without making people stop and think.
By continuously telling fat people that they can’t succeed, are unhealthy, can’t take part in sport etc. you’re limiting their outcomes and preventing them from reaching their true potential.
There is some irony to banning an advert because it alludes to a phrase which might be offensive, when the phrase in question is so frequently used against larger people that it’s now become an accepted social rhetoric.
If people want to get irate about something then surely it should be about an attitude which is so seriously damaging to their fellow man, not a word they might have seen.
Whatever your interpretation of the campaign it highlights the issues which blight the lives of fat people, not least fat shaming which continues to badly affect people’s mental and physical health, self-esteem and ultimately their personal success in a thin world.
Fat remains the last Bastian of the troll as our own social media sadly demonstrates. Some of it is blatant but much of it veiled fatism which I find even more dangerous because it underlies an aversion to and lack of respect for fat people which is counter-productive for the whole of society.
I am disappointed that despite the campaign's success and the many hundreds of positive comments we have received, the ASA have taken this stance and I question whether decisions like this are actually in the best interest of the public.
The Fat Can campaign continues to celebrate the achievements of ordinary fat people and show cases what they can and are doing. It’s a campaign that has something important to say, it’s clever, humorous, positive and colourful and stands out in a world of dull, samey, negative and beige.
What’s worse for society – a poster in which you have to fill the dots, or an attitude which is harming millions of people?
You can read the full ASA ruling here
Agent: Mellor & Smith
You might hear FAT CAN'T but actually FAT CAN and FAT DOES and our community is a testament to that.
Whatever preconceptions society may have about fat people, our community is proof that body size doesn’t stop us!
We've never thought of FAT as a bad word - it was just part of a nickname we thought would look good on a jersey, so we were surprised when some people were offended by it, but we realised pretty quickly, that it said much more about them and their attitude to fat, than it did our name.
Over the course of the past decade, we’ve seen fat used as a weapon against our community in so many hurtful ways and despite our politically correct society, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. If anything it’s getting worse and we’ve had enough!
Fat people are still fair game and the terminology used to berate them is staggering. We've had enough of this negativity, so we're re-claiming the word fat and we're not going to let society use it to humiliate, demean and hurt us any more.
So, when the white van driver or the skinny whippet cyclist shouts Fat Can’t, we say actually FAT CAN!
In keeping with our humour, we have launched a new campaign designed to challenge the rhetoric and dispel the myth that fat people are not very good, amateur, lazy, don’t know what they’re doing, shouldn’t be on a bike, can’t run a triathlon, blah blah blah and celebrate the awesomeness of our multi sized, multi shaped community.
There are so many ready to tell us what we shouldn’t, couldn’t and can’t do, this campaign is about challenging the nee sayers and showing them what we can and are doing. Share your story and let's celebrate our achievements together #actuallyfatcan
Watch Lynn & Richard discussing the campaign.