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From Shakesville, Paul McAleer of Big Fat Blog posting...This horrid TV commercial on the Realize Gastric Band site equates the controversial stomach reduction surgery known as gastric banding with happiness, success and fulfillment. It does so with dramatized examples of 1) a fat man playing with his karate-learning kidsy and 2) a fat woman slow-dancing with her [also fat] romantic partner. The fat man in 1) says, "I want to watch my little warrior do karate" or something very similar. The fat woman in 2) says, "I want to kiss him [romantic partner] under the Eiffel Tower." 

The commercial goes on to tell viewers how the Realize Band can help them get what they want. "Ask your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you," the voiceover encourages. The commercial concludes with how wonderful the Realize Band is, especially since you can track your success and have a support group. Incidentally, "tracking your success" is accompanied by a picture on a user's computer screen of a line graph showing a steady trend downward. We also see an animated female morphing from fat to less fat.

This ad is offensive for so many reasons. Where do I start?


1. The fat man and fat woman who have exciting goals in life do NOT have to undergo bariatric surgery in order to achieve them. In fact, bariatric surgery has nothing to do with their goals, which are about the people they love. Being fat does not impede one's ability to love, support and show affection for one's loved ones. Being less fat is not necessary in order to truly prove one's devotion to another person.

However, the commercial for the Realize Band obviously wants to encourage potential consumers that, if they really loved their families, they would undergo controversial, risky and damaging surgery. In this way, the Realize Band perpetuates the old chestnut that a person's weight/physicality/shape/size represents a moral issue. According to this commercial's subtext, being fat is a deep personal failing and horrible vice.

2. I object to ads for medical procedures that motivate the consumer to say, "I want this product. Doctor, give it to me!" While I'm all for being an aggressive, assertive, inquisitive consumer and searching out a range of treatment options for any condition, I do not think that people who suggest treatments they have seen on TV are truly being informed consumers. As I illustrate in point 1, TV ads such as this one for the Realize Band work in impressions, rather than information. Realize Band's commercial here exploits feelings of guilt, inadequacy and shame to motivate people to use its product. Feelings of personal worthlessness stemming from emotional manipulation never make a good basis for choosing a particular medical treatment.

3. The concept of "tracking your success" gives the false impression that the Realize Band will have a wholly beneficial effect on one's life, which could not be further from the truth. Gastric reduction or bypass surgery creates a host of health effects in those who have it. 

--For example, since one's stomach has been drastically reduced and/or routed around, one loses the ability to easily absorb nutrients and minerals. One can't just take supplements to combat these deficiencies. Anemia may result from iron deficiency. You may need intravenous iron infusions for the rest of your life.

--One's stomach often becomes much more sensitive to spicy, hard or dense foods. One may get bad heartburn or what the business likes to call "productive burping."  Actually, "productive burping" isn't just about embarrassing noises emanating from your gut; it's about throwing up. Gastric bypass or banding surgery increases the chances of the survivor throwing up a whole lot. 

--If a survivor of gastric surgery throws up a lot, stomach acid flows frequently across the teeth. Like people with bulimia, survivors of gastric bypass or banding may suffer rapid degradation of their dental enamel. This is not the picture of an unqualified success.

4. While the Realize Band commercial shows a picture of "success," i.e., steady weight loss, in the form of the downward trending line graph and the shrinking woman, the story is rarely this straightforward. Gastric bypass or banding surgery often results in an initial weight loss. However, very few people keep off all of the weight that they shed. In fact, they may slowly gain it back. For example, one study associates laparoscopic bands, like the Realize Band, with "inadequate weight loss" and "uncontrollable weight regain" in some patients.  Another recent long-term study of people who have had gastric bypass surgery found that about half of participants regained weight within 2 years after their surgery. A study with a 10-year perspective on gastric-bypass survivors notes, "Significant weight gain occurs continuously in patients after reaching the nadir weight." It is very rare for a person who has had gastric surgery to go from size 22 to size 12, which it looks like what is happening in the commercial's illustration. 

5. The fat man and the fat woman look perfectly happy as they are. Maybe if they stopped internalizing the medical community's hatred of their shapes and realized that their size does not limit their capacity for humane, compassionate, joyful existence, they truly would reach their stated goals.

Stupid, insulting ad.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
damsel_ophelia
Jun. 20th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
from the site: "You may experience new emotions" OK, I'll buy that, since after I had WLS...
...I felt anger after realizing just how much prejudice I had faced when I was heavy and how many more doors were opened to me as a size 10 instead of a size 36.
...I felt shame every time I spent what should have been a relaxing dinner with friend/spouse/family puking my damn guts out.
...I feel dismay having to pony up for nasal B12 supplements and having to take time off of work every three months to go get an iron injection - and knowing I'll have to do this for the rest of my life.
...I feel more shame because I have gained weight back and the bariatric community maintains that it's my fault instead of acknowledging that the surgery is not a cure all
...I feel rage knowing that surgeons have no problem backing fat folks into a corner by suggesting they will be denied proper medical treatment if they turn down surgery
...I want to cry every time I get some mailer from a gym/fitness facility/weight loss program that tells me I can lose weight from their program - even though it does register in my brain that they get lists of names from some clearing house and whoever sent them out most likely has no idea what I even look like.
...I felt crushed when I was at my 10th high school reunion and all of the women were jealous (because I'd lost so much weight and was "pretty") and one of the guys (who, as it turns out was a MD which I didn't really know until later) pulled me aside to ask me if I was OK...he said I didn't look healthy...I looked like a cancer patient.

And surgeon support is a fucking JOKE. Maybe for the first year or two, but unless you're a success story that they can parade in front of potential patients they won't want a damn thing to do with you...mostly because even though you get charged for the office visit, you'll never bring in a 5-figure fee again.
donals_girl
Jun. 20th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
The ad is an insult to God and Man. I agree, it not only equates a slender figure with personal happiness, but it has stupidly false premises. As if a large size prevents visiting France, or engaging in a sport at a child's level! If the large man were to do enough karate, he might even find himself losing weight naturally, if he wants to so much!
(Anonymous)
Nov. 1st, 2008 09:28 pm (UTC)
Commericial
Actually, being large may prevent you from traveling to overseas. Have you ever been overweight? I mean 100+ lbs or more? If you have, then you know that it's extreamly uncomfortable flying - especially on an international flight. You basically have to sit with your arms tucked into your sides the whole time so you don't "spill over" into the seat next to you, that is if you're not required to purchase two seats. Can you imagine sitting like that the whole way to Paris? So yeah, size can and does prevent you from doing things. That's what I got out of the commercial.
ashbet
Jun. 20th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
That is really sick and depressing :(

-- A :/
sailorzeo
Jun. 21st, 2008 04:08 am (UTC)
I have to say, though, my favorite aunt, who had been morbidly obese the entire time I've known her, had gastric bypass surgery three years ago (I think, maybe four). She had tried every diet known, exercise, everything, and nothing budged her weight. She went through the year of counseling, dieting, and exercise required before surgery, had the surgery, kept up the diet and exercise, and had her lower body lift (pannectomy) about a year and a half ago (again, I think, I have no concept of the passing of time).

She was thrilled when a man whistled at her for the first time in her life. She was thrilled the first time she weighed less than her younger sister. I got the impression that the roller coasters at Kennywood were a lot more comfortable for her now (she LOVES roller coasters).

I don't love her more because she's thinner. I don't love her less because she's thinner. She was always the woman I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm happy that she's happy, happy that she's healthy, and I'm hoping she can come out to AZ to visit soon.
bozobrain
Jun. 21st, 2008 06:40 pm (UTC)
As a heavy woman - 293 pounds- I want to thank you for standing up for all the fat folks out there. All too often, we are made to feel ashamed for who we are, as if we don't have a right to exist. It's a sad, depressing existance for fat people, and I just wanted to thank you for writing this wonderful post. God bless you.
freak42
Jun. 25th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
I generally don't let advertisements get under my skin, simply because I've come to accept that companies will do whatever they can to sell their product, including guilt people into it as shown here. You get the same thing with anti-smoking or nicotine patch ads yet that's somehow alright because it's socially acceptible to condem a smoker. Now having said that there's one thing specifically this ad does that makes me want to slap the marketing people who put this together, and it is something you pointed out (and actually my wife pointed it out when we first saw this monstrosity). Being overweight HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WANTING TO KISS YOUR LOVED ONE UNDER THE EIFEL TOWER!!!! While I don't approve of guilt tactics in advertisements I've come to terms with the fact that they won't go away. However something this underhanded just makes me sick. To imply that there can be no happiness when you're overweight (which is basically what they're doing) isn't just a guilt tactic, it's a emotional and psychological assault.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 21st, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Creating a fantasy on your account
EVERY time I see this commercial, I am SO ANNOYED. They create a fantasy in a situation that requires authenticity.
By the way, now the 'kissing him under the Eiffel Tower' part has been substituted by a different female voice, one with a lisp. Now, Voice #2 says something about taking a trip to France with him -- it's a very rushed voiceover -- anyone else catch it?
It's such a setup: look at the subliminal messaging with the colors used in this commercial: white, pastels, tangerine. It's SO STUPID. I am not overweight and gratefully never have been, but I swear, this commercial hits all the guilt buttons and has really offended me.
Don't buy it, people. If you want to go the route of a gastric band, do it without this type of nudging from the company that just wants to sell you their product and get your money.
The way these guys court you is SO underhanded: the company is saying that you will have a happy child, a happy family, orange-tangerine smiles and a trip to France where romance abounds.. IF you use their band. SIGH!!!! Trust me: I am pretty, slim, able.. and never had that happen :-)
Take care of You. They just want your $$ -- obviously!!
(Anonymous)
Jun. 12th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Uneducated
It's sad when people who are uneducated on a procedure preach what they truly know nothing about. Obesity doesn't mean you can't love others and others love you. It does effect your life though. I don't care who you are or how happy you act like you are, if you are 100+ pounds OVER weight, you are unhappy. Your just scared to let your real vulnerable feelings out there. It might not be because you care what others think, it may be. It doesn't matter. I have lived at 280 for the past 3 years. No, I couldn't do karate with my daughter. I couldn't run with them and play soccer or do family bike rides that I know they wanted. I dreaded going to the beach because of how much energy it consumes just to get ON TO the beach, packing, carrying, unpacking. I too would love to kiss my loving, supportive husband under the eiffel tower, but I wouldn't dream of taking a 7-8 hour non-stop plane ride because I would be in pain and uncomfortable the whole time in that seat. I dreaded taking my kids to Disney World because I know my energy is not what it needs to be to give them that dream trip. I was embarrased taking her to school and her having the big fat mom instead of a healthy one. Beinging morbidly and super morbidly (which is who this surgery is for by the way, that means atleast 100 pounds over weight) is not about love, it is debilitating. Some people give in to the weight. The food, the weight, the hormones, the sedentary lifestyle win, they even come to terms with it and bash others who DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP!!! Some of us don't want that lifestyle, some of us want to get healthy and have the energy to keep up with our kids. To not break out into an embarrassing sweat because we walked 50 feet. Do you know how hard and expensive it can be when you need to buy clothes, or god forbid a dress for a wedding and your options are flowered mu-mu's or overpriced clothes at Lane Bryant, as if because we're huge we don't want to look nice and wear a nice outfit.

Honestly, your post is so blatently rude and offensive it makes me sick. Also, Gastric Banding is showing AWESOME success rates, you seem to be confusing numbers and wrong stats of banding with bypass, which are two MAJORLY different surgeries.

So, before you judge that commercial which gives people a future that they dreamed of while sitting on the couch too tired to even get up, you should truly research and talk to people who have lived it and gone through it. Go to any hospital program's support group and you will see a room of people that used to be couch bound and now you see a light and sense of pride shining from them because they can do the things they've been watching others do.

Trust me, that commercial isn't about telling fat people they can't love and kiss, it's so MUCH MORE than that and a small mind like you apparently doesn't understand. I hope that commercial shows people stuck on the couch to get up and go learn, get informed, because you CAN DO IT, there truly is help out there and you can gain control of your life back!!!!!!!

Shame on you and the poster that said "if you they did some karate they might lose". What you don't know is the people who get banded have beeing dieting and fighting weight their whole life. Obesity is a real disease and many people are prone to it, read up on it and become informed before becoming over opinionated.

Adios!

(Anonymous)
Mar. 22nd, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
Re: Uneducated
first off you are misinformed about gastric banding. it does not alter your existing stomach and does not prevent vitamins and minerals from being properly absorbed by the body. this is the difference between gastric banding(realize band) and the gastric bypass surgery. i was motivated by the realize commercial and have a realize band implant. i have had it for 7 months and have NEVER had heartburn. this is awesome considering before surgery i had been treated for acid reflux since i was 11 yrs. old. the surgery corrected it. i have never thrown up anything since my surgery except when i had the flu. it has been a wonderful tool and changed my life in the way that i no longer have to take high blood pressure meds as i no longer have it!!! your info is incorrect and you should be accountable.k an
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