Habit Heroes Closes Following Negative Feedback

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Habit Heroes at Epcot’s Innoventions has closed until further notice. Late this week the mini-attraction came under intense scrutiny for the way it portrays obesity, overweight people (in particular, children), and the concept of “fat-shaming.”  In particular health care professionals in Canada began to speak out after seeing the attraction, causing the uproar to spread across the Internet quickly. Per the Calgary Herald:

“It’s so dumbfounding it’s unreal,” says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa. “I just can’t believe somebody out there thought it was a good idea to pick up where the school bullies left off and shame kids on their vacation.”

“Rebecca Scritchfield, an adjunct professor at George Washington University, said she was “disgusted” by the exhibit’s implication that weight is indicative of health, writing: “I would love to know what sickos thought this up.”

If you’re interested in what exactly the now-defunct attraction entailed – as Disney claims it is going to be reworked – you can read my write-up/synopsis from the opening weekend over at my personal blog, Epcyclopedia.com (it also ran on MiceAge.com, so it might look familiar.) Fair warning: in addition to misgivings about the treatment of childhood obesity, I did not have a high opinion of the attraction.

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Posted on February 25, 2012

29 Responses to “Habit Heroes Closes Following Negative Feedback”

  • by Stephanie Govatos on February 25, 2012, at 1:30 pm EST

    We did this a few weeks ago and not only was it offensive it was so dumb.
    We loved the recycling and were very disappointed they replaced it with such
    A stupid attraction.

  • As a healthcare professional who treats children and adolescents with eating and weight issues I was floored by Habit Heroes. This exhibit closed not a moment too soon. Disney, and its collaborators, have publicly sanctioned the bullying and humiliation of children as a supposed health promotion intervention. I hope that Disney and the group/s and consultants who helped them develop this horrific concept will take a deeper look in to their own ethics and prejudices. Otherwise it will simply re-emerge in another hateful and damaging display.

  • This is great news. The idea might have been good but the execution terrible. This was just harmful and I am glad little kids will not be subjected to that negative bias from beloved Disney World of all places!

  • Closing this attraction is ridiculous and you are all hypocrits. The show has been designed for people to become aware of health riscs and healthy lifestyle. The message is great and the attraction is about collaboration and excersise…. All good.

    People who are fat, look fat. Its unhealthy. The attraction never implies you need to be ashamed of your fat. It says to all people to get off the couch sometimes, avoid the wrong fatty foods and excersise.

    It’s just as hypocrit as censoring nipples from TV shows (ooh, the human body!) while the excessive violence is generally excepted.

    Stop taking yourselves so seriously, have some laughs and applaud the park addressing this theme, finally. Shame on you.

    • Shame on ME for not wanting little kids to be bullied? I say shame on you for for ASSuming every fat person is unhealthy! Do a little research and educate yourself.

    • by JimAmberson699 on February 25, 2012, at 3:41 pm EST

      I agree. No where was there anything shaming people who are overweight. The people critical of this have never seen it. I played it. It was about helping each other make healthier choices. People who see images of overweight cartoon characters, depicting exaggerated results of bad habits are just enabling the real life bad habits to continue.

    • sounds to me like you are a bully yourself with your idiotic, narrow minded outlook on life. Like Lael said, you need to educate yourself, and if you think by going to Disneyland to do this then you really are more stupid than I thought. Fat people do not just sit on a couch all day. That is a view from the Schmucks that fat people have to put up with on a daily bases. Also, stop taking your self so seriously and have a laugh with it? Seriously?? Like the article says, it basically picks up where the bullies left off. How does a child who gets bullied and children are very sensitive people, feel about going on vacation and seeing this? It will make them feel so crap on there holiday. And you think they should just laugh at them selves when people like you are laughing at them also? You come across as some heartless moron.

      • Folks, we don’t tolerate personal attacks or name-calling on the site. Don’t do it. Make your arguments using facts and logic.

  • As a registered dietitian that works with children and parents, I found this exhibit horrifying! Clearly the creators do not understand that size diversity is normal in a population. If all children ate healthfully and were physically active, most would be average weight with some fatter and some thinner. The exhibit had the potential of causing great harm including disordered eating. I hope when reworked, the exhibit will promote health for children of all sizes.

  • Unfortunately this sort of thing happens when an attraction is left to people who are not necessarily “in the know” regarding the best way to approach this problem psychologically. Bullying is alive and well and it’s not just children. Nothing improves with negative reinforcement.

  • It’s just a bit of a leap from an attraction encouraging healthy eating & exercise to… bullying. “Size diversity”. Oy. That’s a new one, even for someone well familiar with the PC police state. As a society we’ve all become a bit… sensitive… This is the same mindset that has teachers refusing to correct kids’ spelling because it might harm their fragile precious self-esteem. One ends up with… people who can’t spell. God forbid we have any “negative reinforcement” to correct such things, especially when we have spell-check to handle it. Such is life these days. Our kids can do no wrong… and end up ill-prepared for the real world. Real self-esteem comes from actual *accomplishment*. I’d write more but it’s time for dinner & I’ve got to get to McDonald’s now. ;-)

  • by Christine Ganis on February 25, 2012, at 6:00 pm EST

    I was also horrified when I read of the shameful monikers given to the various characters. So if a child is considered overweight, or anxious, or depressed, they will be called a shaming name characterized by their appearance. There is a pretty explicit description of how the child came to have that description, even if children come to be heavy, anxious, or depressed from a while host of behaviors, many of which are through no fault of their own, e.g. genetics, stressful environment, or trauma. I am so relieved to hear the Disney folks have responded to the scientific community’s response to re-work the exhibit with better thought out ideas.
    Dr. Christine Ganis, Licensed Psychologist and Eating Disorders Specialist

  • As a professional working with binge eating disorder, I was horrified by this “exhibit”. Thank you, Disney, for listening to the feedback, and acting accordingly! You have a phenomenal opportunity to help kids learn to listen to their bodies, enjoy all foods without shame, move their bodies for the joy of it, and celebrate size diversity. Health comes in all sizes and shapes; please help us spread the word!
    Amy Pershing, Pershing Turner Centers

  • Are you kidding me?! This exhibit is EXACTLY what the world needs! Childhood obesity is HUGE concern in the united states! Type 2 diabetes is showing up at alarming rates in children. AND, childhood obesity is directly related to obesity in adults. Being overweight as a child leads to low self-esteem, higher rates of suicide, and a negative outlook on life. We need to stop acting like this issue isn’t real and start helping the youth of America to realize that obesity IS a REAL concern. With physical education programs being cut in schools, something needs to be done to help teach kids how important good nutrition and exercise is! Whether you want to believe it or not, this is a HEALTH issue, not just an issue about calling kids names or bullying them. Kids need our help, and anyone who says this exhibit is picking up where school bullies left off or that weight isn’t indicative of health is truly ignorant and shouldn’t be allowed to raise a child let alone be near one!

    • Sorry Michael, YOU’RE the ignorant one. Why do you think fat kids have lower self-esteem, higher suicide rates and negative outlooks on life? Because society continuously barrages them with the message that how they look is unacceptable, they are diseased, they are unattractive, stupid, lazy, worthless and about to drop dead at any minute and bullies like you drive the nail home by talking like they DESERVE this disrespectul treatment. The emphasis needs to be on healthy habits and choices and should NEVER imply that what they LOOK LIKE is wrong. This exhibit ruined the former by including the latter and that is simply unacceptable. I was an extremely active child, was fed healthy, balanced meals, rarely – if ever – ate fast food and mom cooked fresh food most of the time. I was still a chubby kid and mercilessly bullied for it. The FACT was that I was not built to be skinny and that was it. No child deserves to be stigmatized for such a thing. So do some research (preferably not funded by companies who make diet products) and then maybe you’ll have the right to spout off. But till then, you don’t.

  • This attraction is what some people need to get in shape. Those who are very fat deserve to be shamed into fitness, they are a risk to themselves and raise the cost of healthcare for everyone. I used to be very overweight and have lost 85 lbs. I’m a lot better off for it. This has nothing to do with “size diversity” (what a stupid phrase) but with kids that are really overweight and need to make a change ASAP. So what if it made fat people feel bad about being fat? GOOD! It’s what they need to get their butts in gear and get healthy!

    • Thank you, John! I’m glad there’s at least one other smart, logical person reading this article.

    • As a fat 24 year old who changed my bad habits 9 months ago and lost 50 pounds, I can tell you 100% that shame didn’t help me lose weight. I didn’t get to nearly 400 pounds because I wasn’t being shamed. Oh I was being shamed by my family left and right. My father couldn’t and still can’t stop talking about “When you were thin and pretty”.

      When I garned the name Porkchop at 5 years old (even though I wasn’t fat then) it didn’t help me out. And when I was the fat sister, that didn’t shame me out of my fat.

      My grandfather started telling me fat women don’t get married when I turned 12. All it did was make me feel like no one would marry me since I was fat. The more people tore me down, the more I believed I was worthless and didn’t see the need to change.

      It is only now as an adult because I love myself and want to live for as long as possible that I can do what is necessary to undo the past 14 years of bad eating. Shame does no good.

    • In fact, John, numerous studies have shown that “fat shaming” actually results in further overeating and unhealthy behaviours. Furthermore, it leads to increasing prejudice in society, which has huge effects on the social, employment and medical experiences of people who are overweight. Particularly amongst children, such tactics are reprehensible and cause immense psychological damage.

      For further reading, please see the Yale Rudd Center who have been doing excellent research in this area.

    • Overweight people DESERVE to be shamed into fitness? In what parallel universe are YOU living where that has EVER worked? LOL. I just love people who lose a little weight and suddenly become experts on what fat people need. Good luck keeping that weight off, buddy, cuz there’s a 95% chance that you won’t. Better hit up Disney now, cuz they won’t accomodate you when you gain it back.

  • Perhaps Disney could send a clearer message of “activity and healthier eating” if they offered better food choices for all, promoted WALKING around their parks and attractions that offered some fun exercise rather than just sitting in so many rides. When we were there, my kids were so sick of the “deep fried kids menu” but they were refused a veggie option. If the park/ company as a whole promoted the LIFESTYLE that helps us all enjoy life to the fullest, think of the lasting impact people would feel long after they leave. Disney could get this right!

  • Thank you so much for helping this “attraction” be closed!

  • by AnarchoRationalist on February 26, 2012, at 5:16 am EST

    I love that there are all these lay people complaining about political correctness, and lauding this exhibit. And then going to Mickey Dee’s for dinner.

    Meanwhile, all of the professionals, doctors, dietitians, etcetera are shocked and appalled by the exhibit and happy to see it end.

    Really says all that needs to be said about the issue.

  • It’s one thing entirely to teach kids how to eat right and be active, but if they aren’t given the options to do so, what are we expecting of them? School lunches are despicable and NOTHING is being done about it because a) no one cares and b) budgets are being slashed so badly that schools can’t AFFORD fresh food. Technology keeps our kids sitting on their tuckuses all day long and parents would rather sit them in front of the tv with video games than engage them. Let’s not get started on kid’s menus in restaurants. Why are people treatingthese kids like criminals when it’s the adults making the decisions who are failing them? Wake up, people.

  • by JimAmberson699 on February 26, 2012, at 8:22 am EST

    Did any of you see the attraction in person? Are you just responding to what has been said by others who didn’t see it. The “heroes” are encouraging people to do better, just like the many health care pros who I would think would be for this sort of effort. I’m overweight, and have been my whole life. I know I’m living poorer for it, and I thought the message is a positive one. I saw no shaming or bullying. Just some facts that things are dire, and the heroes need help. it was fun to play and give my kids an good message. Now they call me out when I go to eat something bad or sit on the couch.