Clearly A Man Made This Poster

by Sally on January 7, 2012

Let me make sure I get this straight: Because Michelle Obama isn’t a size zero like the ladies on the left, she doesn’t have the right to help kids and families with her Let’s Move campaign?

I’ve heard variations of this joke before–from politicians and pundits on cable news shows who probably all have killer washboard abs under those double-breasted suits.

Because really, look at Michelle Obama. She’s at a very healthy weight–but she’ll never look like a Photoshopped Maxim covergirl. So where does she get off talking about nutrition?

Only a tiny fraction of women are genetically programmed to look like the ones on the left. But still. All those other women, who toil and struggle and eat practically nothing to achieve that same shape–they are the ones who should be telling our kids about healthy eating.

I’ve got to hand it to the haters. It must be really tough to think of reasons why kids shouldn’t exercise and eat more fruits and vegetables–and why our government shouldn’t help them do it. But they’ve come up with a whole bunch of them (I find the argument that kids are going to get hit by cars if they start walking particularly inspired).

Forget about inviting kids to plant an organic garden at the White House or convincing Walmart to lower the price of fruits and vegetables. The only way we’re going to keep the focus off of actually helping a generation of kids who are fatter and less active than any in history is by allowing politics and personal hang-ups to defy logic. And by maintaining a steady stream of misogynistic and racist distractions like this one.

His mom must be so proud.


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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Meal Makeover Mom Janice January 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Sally, where did you find this poster? It is incredible. I echo your sentiments on the issue. Still shaking my head…


Sally January 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Yes, it’s unbelievable. I found out about it because a girlfriend of mine actually un-friended someone on Facebook (a male friend from high school) after he posted this to his wall–she voiced her outrage over the poster, but was basically told that she just didn’t get the joke and was being uptight. I went to the website listed at the bottom of the poster, and it’s full of hateful political posters like this one. (I didn’t want to link to the site and generate any extra traffic there, which is why I used the poster within the post.)


Anna January 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

So infuriating! And ya gotta love the old “don’t be so sensitive” reaction to voicing opposition to a form of prejudice. Archaic much?


eila / full plate January 9, 2012 at 10:53 am

Wow. Really shocking, and sad, that people can be so close-minded. I’m with Janice…shaking my head.


Bri January 9, 2012 at 11:12 am

Once again, we confuse “health” with “weight.” Our national discourse is so full of mixed messages that it’s almost unsurprising that so many people think super skinny=healthy. Of course, in some respects, the fact that the common “enemy” is labeled as “childhood obesity” probably contributes, because it automatically slaps a weight-based qualifier on the health of our kids — despite the fact that a skinny child eating Lunchables and spending every afternoon in front of the computer could also stand more fruits and vegetables and extra physical activity.


Sally January 9, 2012 at 11:31 am

Bri, that’s a wonderful point about how “childhood obesity” labels it as a problem only for overweight and obese kids. One of the aims of Let’s Move is to get ALL kids eating healthier and moving more, no matter what they weigh. That’s been one of my frustrations with the soccer snack battle–parents say “but look at the kids, they’re not overweight”, as if only kids with higher BMIs should be eating fruit instead of cupcakes after a soccer game!


Tues January 9, 2012 at 11:17 am

Ugh. Uck. Bleck. Boo and hiss. So disheartening. *head hits desk*


Martica Heaner PhD January 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Michelle Obama is not underweight, nor is she at risk of osteoporosis and infertility, among other things that happen from not eating enough, like the women on her left in this poster. She is at a healthy, normal weight.

And anyone who knows anything about obesity and health knows that the body-fat pattern that Michelle Obama exhibits–gynoid fat distribution–is actually a healthy way to carry fat. Fat in the lower body–butt and thighs is a healthy fat, unlike the fat associated with higher metabolic risks when it’s packed deep in the belly. I’ve written a lot about this in my MSN columns over the years.

And that’s not all: Research shows that being fit and ‘fat’, or fit with an overweight-category BMI which is probably what the First Lady confers more beneficial health risks than being underweight, or skinny and unfit like the 2 women on the left (not sure if they’re fit but they certainly do not appear to be very strong). Based on her body shape and probable BMI, Michelle Obama has lower risks of getting various chronic disease and a lower risk of dying, than either of those 2 women on the left.

Sadly, our perception of health and beauty is being thin and malnourished. Photos do pack on pounds so these women are even thinner in real life than they look int he photos.

It’s sad that so many people choose to criticize how she looks. Especially because she’s in great shape–she has strong, scuplpted arms. As I recall, no one criticized Nancy Reagan for being a probably anorexic, or Barbara Bush for being, well, fat. Or Laura Bush for being soft, pudgy and seemingly out of shape. Michelle Obama might be the fittest First Lady ever, even though she’s not supermodel skinny.


Sally January 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Fantastic points, Martica! I nearly cried tears of joy when Michelle Obama took on childhood wellness as her initiative. I hate that she’s been unfairly cast at the “food police” or on the flipside, as a hypocrite for eating an occasional burger. Like Bri pointed out, our society is so focused on appearance and not on health. How can we possibly help kids think and live in a healthier way if we can’t figure it out ourselves? Thank you so much for that interesting and insightful comment and for reading my blog.


Danielle January 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Not a fan of the title. Women are more judgmental and require those unrealistic sizes more then men but love the article. I hope that children get the support they need from Michelle Obama’s initiative.


Sally January 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Danielle, I see your point–and I think you’re right that women are often more judgmental of each other, particularly when it comes to weight. I gave the post that title because I believe that only women really understand that most women who have the figures that the women on the left have are shaped that way because of dieting–and would not exactly be candidates for the job of “nutrition expert”. Yes, some women are genetically capable of looking that way. But by the time you get to your 30s, 40s and beyond (especially if you’ve had children), this body type as a natural occurrence becomes a lot more rare. This guy is implying that only the women on the left should ever be called “nutrition experts” because they have a skinnier body frame–and that Michelle Obama, because she is a different shape is not qualified to offer nutrition advice. To me, that comes from a place of not only sexism and racism, but also plain ignorance.


Bettina at The Lunch Tray January 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Sally – Blech. I’m glad you shared this even though it’s so offensive – it’s important to realize how politically divisive childhood obesity prevention has become, in part precisely because of the Obamas’ involvement in the cause. I wrote about that on The Lunch Tray a few months back:

– Bettina


Clancy Harrison January 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm

I am happy you posted this! You are so correct on your points and I also was extremely happy with Obama took on childhood obesity!


Cristi January 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Skinny doesn’t equal healthy! Anyone who’s thin because of an eating disorder is testament to that. And I really can’t stand when people stoop to insulting someone’s physical attributes because they disagree with them in ways that have nothing at all to do with that – or for any reason for that matter! Shame on whoever made this poster.


IlinaP January 9, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Skinny does not equal fit! This notion is out of whack, and photoshopping cover girls doesn’t help anyone. Being fit comes in many shapes and sizes. Being skinny is an unhealthy goal, while being fit is what we should all strive for.


Sally January 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Amen. Skinny does not mean healthy–for instance, you can be underweight and have early signs of heart disease in your arteries. Michelle Obama is in fabulous shape and makes it known that she exercises regularly, so she’s also a great role model for kids and parents.


Sarah Stevens January 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Too me it doesn’t matter if you are repub. or dem. Yes, I will admit that I did not vote for Obama, I am conservative(please don’t flame me guys) but I think it is a good idea. After watching some shows (Dr. Oz for one) where parents let their kids eat everything under the sun except for healthy food, it really made me realize that some of it is parents fault….some isn’t. I know in this episode she was like 106% or something and she was at extreme high risk for diabetes (she was borderline already), etc. Anyway, he asked why they fed their child that. They responded something like because she cries if she doesn’t get it. Then he asked what if you only gave her broccoli. They responded that she would eat it if it was the only thing she was given. I know not to judge other parents but working in the medical field-and in a children’s hospital-that is dangerous for children and it does cause medical costs to get higher. I know some children cannot help it. I like Michelle Obama and I don’t care if she is curvy. I am underweight (I have had multiple surgeries on my abdomen from a car accident and also found out I have severe food allergies to top that off) and I don’t like it. I look gross. She is cute!


Sally January 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm

You’re right, Sarah. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat. Getting our kids to eat healthier and be more active is an issue everyone should agree is important. And yes, parents play a huge role (which is why I like that Let’s Move offers a lot of resources and information for families). Parents feel pressured to give their children the “kid junk food” that is marketed to them–their kids beg for it b/c they’ve seen a bajillion commercials and ads for the stuff. Food marketers know what they’re doing, and they do it well. I’m sorry to hear about your health problems and would encourage you to get a referral to a dietitian if you’re underweight and need help figuring out what foods will work for your health condition and your allergies. Thanks for your comment!


Diane January 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

You’ll be glad to know this is a fake…

Even if the woman shown on the right is Michelle Obama, her size has been manipulated. Furthermore, as I looked back at the photo more critically, I noticed that if you look at the steps under her, you’ll see repeating patterns that indicate they were “cloned” in Photoshop (from areas on the left). Not done very well…I’m an amateur and could have done it better than that! =)


Sally January 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Diane–wow! Thank you for that link. Amazing that someone felt the need to do that. So now we’re Photoshopping women to be both thinner AND heavier than they really are? How frustrating.


Katy Widrick January 10, 2012 at 9:31 am


And yet, I’m not surprised…

Thanks for sharing this, even though it’s making me see red :)


jennifer January 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

This gets me so angry too. Being Hollywood skinny is not the goal…the goal is to be healthy and fit.


Deanna - January 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm

I am disgusted at some of our societal views. Idiocy and ignorance. Such a shame.

Parents: please encourage your kids in a positive and logical light.


Antonina January 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Michelle Obama is a beautiful woman, especially with her african american genetics that make her muscular and healthy. Ever heard the song by mixalot? Yeah, Michelle has got back BE PROUD. She is so inspirational, she does understand nutrition, and if she wanted to she is more than intelligent enough to go get a Masters or a Phd in nutrition, but she doesn’t have to. None of us do to eat healthy…


Nicole Feliciano January 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I’m so proud of our First Lady and her campaign. She took on a big issue and has given it her all. I think she is fit and fabulous!


Gems January 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Wow! That poster made me stop in my tracks. I recently read about advertisers being stopped from using overly photoshopped pictures which do not accurately portray the products. It is time health was linked to normal, healthy bodies rather than waifs. No offense to those who are naturally slim…I know it happen, but we really need to shift the media back into reality.


Alan January 10, 2012 at 10:00 pm

I agree with every point. Truly. I have heard people say incredibly stupid things to others about their weight. And to take a potshot like this is one of those sort of blind political things that makes me boil.

But man, do I hate the fact that you automatically pinned it on a man. In my life experience, women are incredibly judgmental when it comes to other women. I have seen women check other women out head-to-toe at parties. I’ve heard then make incredibly cutting comments about hair, wardrobe, complexion and weight.

It’s certainly possible a guy did do this. But you shouldn’t have treated it like a foregone conclusion. Being an asshole isn’t exclusive to men, just as sensitivity isn’t exclusivr to women.


Sally January 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Alan–That title, “Clearly a man made this poster”, was originally part of the post, but ended up as the title. And in hindsight, it wasn’t the best or most accurate description of the post’s entire message. But I hope you read my previous response to another person’s comment that the reason I said that is NOT that men are capable of being more racist than women (and I agree that women are often more judgmental of each other than men), but that women–better than men–understand that most “skinny women” are NOT skinny b/c of good nutrition–but b/c of dieting and not getting ENOUGH nutrition. So therefore, the suggestion that only the very thin women are qualified to be “nutrition experts” (since that’s what the poster is saying) is totally off-base. Women understand that better than men do because we know from experience. Especially someone in their 40s with two kids–she’s not going to be the “airbrushed ideal” that the media shows (well, a very, VERY small percentage will be). Hope that makes sense. Didn’t mean to convey that all men are assholes!


Karen Le Billon January 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I agree with lots of what has been said above. It’s not the first time this has happened–for example, the attacks on Kelly Brownell (Yale) when he proposed a soda tax over a decade ago referred to his weight–as if this ‘disqualified’ him from giving advice.

We all know that body types vary, and healthy bodies come in various shapes and sizes. We also know that many people are motivated to offer a variety of illogical arguments against basic common-sense: eating more vegetables and fruits, and exercising more.

Bravo to Michele Obama for taking this issue on — I personally find her inspiring.


Claire January 15, 2013 at 10:45 am

I would have said clearly a WHITE person made this poster (if it were real). Confusing healthy for skinny is a very white concept- reflects a very different understanding of bodies and beauty norms.


Sally January 15, 2013 at 11:03 am

Good point Claire!


Caity January 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

WOW. Excellent post!!!!


Alicia November 2, 2013 at 8:20 am

The poster is funny but I’m sure it has been altered but who really cares. I’m also sure that a woman could have very easily done this same thing to make a point too. Let’s gave it, it was someone with a lot of time on their hands. Mrs. Obama isn’t fat but she’s sure not tone and fit either. Personally, I really don’t care about what she looks like or how she eats or what she’s trying to tell parents how to feed their kids…if you don’t take control of your own body and your kids eating habits then no one else will. The government can’t make anyone change their diet and Michelle Obama is waisting her time! America is one of the fattest countries in the world because of our way of life. All of you are offended by the poster because your not a size 2 but yet you complain about kids being fat and not eating healthy. No everyone can’t be stick thin but you can be at least a size 6 or below. Anything over that and you are over weight unless your 6′. I work at a middle school in which most of the girls are 3xs my size, and I’ve had 3 children (I’m a size 2 and proud of it) but the ones in sports/athletics are healthy thin because they work out EVERYDAY! Get real ladies and get off your ass if you want to be thin and healthy. Put up the candy bars and quit relying on Michelle Obama to save our country and your families. I can’t believe the mentality and simple minded thinking of you women. Getting healthy and thin takes a lot of hard work, dedication and you have to help your self. Michelle can’t do it for you! Sorry ladies but


Sally November 4, 2013 at 11:35 am

Alicia–I couldn’t disagree more. Not everyone can be a size 6 or below, thin does not equal healthy, and the epidemic of obesity cannot be reduced to the advice of “stop eating candy bars and get off your ass”. This is a a dangerous mindset, especially if you working with middle schoolers.


Sally T July 2, 2014 at 6:29 am

Well said, it’s amazing the energy wasted on being counterproductive. I love your blog!

– Sally T


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