In the twelve years that Mayor Bloomberg has presided over New York City, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (srsly, that’s for real, MENTAL HYGIENE) has been responsible for quite a few not always-well-received ad campaigns. The words “controversial” and occasionally “insensitive” come to mind — hello, human fat being poured out of a soda bottle; nice to see you, comically-crying “child of a teen mother.” (There was also that time they took a photo of a healthy two-legged man and Photoshopped him into a diabetes-suffering amputee.)
The department’s latest venture, which takes the form of posters to be found primarily in subways and on street corners, takes a slightly different approach than the usual I’m hungover and even if I weren’t I still didn’t really need to see that on my way to work this morning scare tactics. In fact, the NYC Girls Project is the rare positive stab at successful outreach. The posters, as well as the accompanying city-sponsored fitness programs and #imagirl Twitter campaign, are aimed at young girls aged 7 to 12. As more than 80 percent of 10-year-old girls are “afraid of being fat,” and with “body satisfaction” hitting rock bottom between 12 and 15, the idea behind the campaign is that some of these body image issues can be addressed as early as possible before things start to get rough (which we all know they will anyway, of course).
Bloomberg’s press secretary Samantha Levine is the brains behind the campaign. Levine told the Times that she was inspired by Frisky favorite Cheryl Strayed, who referred to feminism’s biggest shortcoming as the fact that “women still worried about what their buttocks looked like in jeans.” The message, we understand, is less “I’m beautiful on the outside” and more “we are all who we are, and that’s beautiful.” The project is interesting, to say the least, and certainly well-meaning, but whether it will make any real impact is a toss-up. [Gothamist]