Mar 2nd 2012 By: Graeme McMillan
A new attraction at Walt Disney World that used overweight superheroes to teach about the dangers of childhood obesity has closed less than a month after its unofficial opening for retooling following accusations that it introduces the idea of body shame to a whole new generation of Americans concerned about their weight.
The new attraction, an exhibition created with the assistance of Blue Cross and Blue Shield called "Habit Heroes," featured "fitness heroes" with names like "Will Power" and "Callie Stenics" guiding visitors through interactive rooms that illustrated bad habits such as watching too much television or a diet that contains too much junk food using characters called "Lead Bottom" and "Super-Sized Snacker," amongst others. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance immediately condemned the exhibit, saying that it was "appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination... It appears that Disney now believes the using the tool of shame, favored so much by today's healthcare corporations, is the best way to communicate with children." The exhibit has also been called disturbing, "reinforcing society's most hateful negative obesity stereotyping" and demonstrating "a complete lack of understanding for childhood obesity."
In response, Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda told the Orlando Sentinel
"[this is] why we have a soft opening. So we can open it up to others and listen. We've heard the feedback." Officially, the exhibition is closed for maintenance, with its original official opening date of March 5 postponed indefinitely.
Whether the world has seen the last of Lead Bottom and Callie Stenics remains to be seen, but to everyone upset by the exhibit, it could be worse: They could've used Marvel characters like the Blob
or Fat Cobra