Cancer Research UK was founded in 2002 as a cancer research and awareness charity. Their main function has been to research causation and various treatments, and this research is conducted in hospitals all across the United Kingdom. Now, however, they are catching flack because of a recent advertisement.
This past Wednesday, Sofie Hagen, a comedian and creator of the Made Human podcast, put the charity on blast:
Hagen was accusing Cancer Research UK of fat shaming, and the charity tweeted back:
(1/2) Hi Sofie, our campaign isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad about their weight or make anyone think negatively about people who are overweight or obese. Our aim is to raise awareness of the link between cancer and obesity…— Cancer Research UK (@CR_UK) February 28, 2018
But Hagen wasn't having it:
What your campaign is doing is so incredibly damaging, that I can't even begin to describe it in only 280 characters. There are many people who have tweeted me their articles about it, try reading those. There is no excuse for you to have this campaign up.— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 28, 2018
And you can absolutely go away in terms of trying to excuse it. Society viewing fatness as a negative thing is a thing that kills more than the cancer that you MIGHT get due to MAYBE something to do with you POSSIBLY weighing MORE than a CERTAIN weight POSSIBLY MAYBE.— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 28, 2018
And BMI has been debunked DECADES ago. It's not a valid way of measuring anything. On the contrary, DIETING has been proved TIME AND TIME again to be one of the worst thing you can do to your body. Your campaign is so damaging and fatshaming and I really hope it gets taken down.— Sofie Hagen (@SofieHagen) February 28, 2018
Many people were skeptical of Hagen's position:
I don’t agree with this.— Anushka 🐝 (@bumblebeenush) March 1, 2018
I see this campaign as a statement of a cold fact based on the current evidence we have. It doesn’t use photos or point fingers. It is as depersonalised as it can be.
Anti-smoking and anti-drugs campaigns have been far more controversial.
You are so unequivocally wrong that it hurts, and this is coming from someone who dealt with obesity his whole life. I was pre-diabetic, blood pressure high, cholesterol high. If you want to be fat thats fine, truly is, but don’t try and negate health related FACTS. pic.twitter.com/mXb181kxCY— Jimmy𓅓⁶ (@jamesyvesjoseph) March 2, 2018
Not in any way trying to start a fight but what is the issue here? If there is statistical evidence to suggest a link, what is wrong with informing the public of this evidence?— Jim Clack (@jimboclack) February 28, 2018
But you have to accept being overweight carries risks, right? There's a difference between a positive body image and medical fact. People can be happy with the weight they are, but need to accept the risk, like a smoker. Why do you think those other docs said it?— Nick Long (@TheNickLongBomb) March 2, 2018
While some defended her point:
Eating a poor diet, lack of exercise, alcohol and smoking, being underweight - all reasons for health risks. Being overweight but metabolically fit doesn't mean you are any more at risk of health complications than anybody else— karen T (@magentawillow) March 2, 2018
The advert is blunt and cruel. Folk on here are acting like it really is so simple for obese people. There is often bigger issues behind obesity and it's not as simple as eating healthy. It is often the mind that needs to get healthy so how does this ad help?— stephen fyfe (@Stephenfyfe) February 28, 2018
I KEEP SEEING THIS and was going to say something today. How the fuck do we get rid of it?— Alice S-H (@alibelle) February 28, 2018
For many, it was the bluntness of the advertisement that was potentially problematic:
As an anaesthetist I think there is a balance between informing and empowering people and alienating and shaming them. This campaign leans to the latter, unfortunately.— Karen (@Dr_KM_) March 1, 2018
And if a campaign is actively alienating those it seeks to engage, it is flawed. And counter-productive. And further entrenches some of the psychological processes that lead to obesity in the first place.— Karen (@Dr_KM_) March 1, 2018
The honest fact is obesity is something that can lead to cancer and other illnesses. I don’t think it’s fat shaming, it is just making people aware of the dangers. We can’t just ignore proven research in order to protect people’s feelings. Feelings will mend, death wont.— Oswald Cobblepot (@osco113) March 2, 2018
All that being said I do believe there is a better way to vocalise the dangers instead of this— Oswald Cobblepot (@osco113) March 2, 2018
While the research may be true, imagine being an overweight person in a society that constantly shames fat bodies, getting on the train, and seeing this ad. Regardless of the facts, it definitely could have been handled with more tact.