Disney makes amends for fat-shaming exhibit, promotes healthy living

Well, here’s some good news we like to report! Last March, About-Face covered a horrific story about a fat-shaming exhibit Disney opened in Epcot, “Habit Heroes.” The exhibit was an interactive game in which children used virtual candy, cakes, and ice cream to combat overweight “villains,” spurred on by the physically superior “heroes,” Will Power and Callie Stenics.

Luckily, after receiving a great deal of backlash from groups including the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, Disney closed the exhibit.

Last week, it re-opened, new-and-improved, with a focus not on fat-shaming, but on healthy living and healthy habits.

Callie Stenics and Will Power have been replaced by three heroes (with less embarrassingly punny names): Quench, Dynamo, and Fuel.

The disturbingly offensive villains Lead Bottom, Sweet Tooth, and the Snacker (ironic, really, given the multitudes of junk food served at Disney parks), have been replaced by more generalized trademarks of unhealthy living: Scorches, Sappers, and Blocker Bots.

There are three levels of the game: removing the villains from our bodies, from the city, and from the world.

Each of these levels corresponds to one of the rooms in the exhibit, and each room requires players to undertake a physical activity like disco dancing, cannon-shooting, and running from place to place.

These activities get people to be physically active, and require participants to work as part of a team. Obviously, the attraction requires that participants are able-bodied in order to participate.

Some of the themes of violence remain — cannon shooting, for example — but luckily, all of the undertones clearly stigmatizing overweight individuals have been removed.

It seems that the new exhibit has struck the perfect balance: it promotes healthy living in a positive, encouraging way, as opposed to a punishing one.

As far as attractions go, it may not be as exciting as Mission: SPACE, but still worth checking out if you make the trip to Epcot!

Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.

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  1. It is so wonderful when activism results in positive change! Almost exactly one year ago (Feb. 24)I wrote a blog about the H.H. exhibit and participated in letter writing and petition campaign. I was actually contacted by a Disney rep who spent 20 minutes on the phone with me discussing my concerns. I am about to publish a blog post with the follow up but am thrilled to see that you are spreading the word about GOOD NEWS! We don’t get to celebrate as often as we would like! Warmly, Dr. Deah

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