A British comedian has slammed a new campaign by Cancer Research UK, arguing the current adverts being rolled out across the United Kingdom are “fat-shaming” and offensive towards obese people.
Cancer Research UK has released a series of new videos and ads that raise awareness around cancer and the various factors that contribute to it. What they’re trying to do is get people thinking about health factors that people don’t typically associate with the potentially life-threatening disease.
“Some causes of cancer, like smoking, are more well-known that others,” one of the videos explains. “But did you know that obesity can increase the risk of 13 different types of cancer?”
The campaigns are set up in the style of a quiz show and encourage the public to think about the less-known factors that lead to cancer. One particular campaign is very similar to Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and asks people what the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking is. The answer is obesity.
Another gets people to guess the word “obesity”, but has several letters missing. It was this ad that upset Sofie Hagen. The 29-year-old comedian took to Twitter to call out the campaign. Sharing a snap of the “offensive” image, she told her followers: “Right, is anyone currently working on getting this piece of sh** CancerResearchUK advert removed from anywhere?
“Is there something I can sign? How the f****** f*** is this okay?”
In another tweet, she also called out beauty company Lush for also running a campaign that she deemed harmful for obese people. “In the same week both @LushLtd and @CR_UK contributed to fatshaming in the UK. Thanks for making the world sh*tier, you filthy c****.”
She noted that Lush pulled its campaign, but that Cancer Research UK had not. The organisation later issued a statement to Sofie, but said it wouldn’t be pulling the adverts.
Also taking to Twitter, a representative from the organisation wrote: “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 as after smoking, obesity is the second biggest cause. It is our duty to inform people about this and lobby the government on policies which will help us all to keep a healthy weight.”
(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
They directed her to more information on their website, but Sofie wasn’t having any of it. “What your campaign is doing is so incredibly damaging, that I can’t even begin to describe it in only 280 characters,” she said. “There are people who have tweeted me their articles about it, try reading those. There is no excuse for you to have this campaign up.”
She even went as far as to say that the campaign was based on false information. “And you can absolutely go away in terms of trying to excuse it,” she vented. “Society viewing fatness as a negative thing is a thing that kills more than cancer that you MIGHT get due to MAYBE something to do with you POSSIBLY weighing MORE than a CERTAIN weight POSSIBLY MAYBE.”
The heated exchange started quite a debate online, with people understanding both sides of the argument. One person, who agreed with the campaign, wrote: “So because you are plus sized and clearly offended, that is more important than getting a health message across? Hard hitting maybe, way of getting people into gear in trying to take responsibility for their own health instead of waiting for the worst to happen”.
Another sarcastically said: “Let’s just ignore that obesity can lead to cancer then shall we? Surely this motivates you to make a positive change in your life instead of getting upset that someone is pointing out a cause of cancer? @CR_UK aren’t doing this for any other purpose than to save lives … think!”
Others sided with Sofie, with one person writing: “There is a difference between informing and shaming and THIS campaign shames. This is a madly triggering campaign for those with eating disorders.”