Cheers for Chubby – MetLife Healthy Diet PSA (1950s, 7 minutes 44 seconds)January 26, 2021
“Cheers for Chubby” is an early example of healthcare propaganda produced by Metropolitan (MetLife, a for-profit health insurance company), in collaboration with the Public Health Service of the Federal Security Agency and the American Medical Association.
Link to the full cartoon at the bottom of this post.
The protagonist is cartoonishly pear-shaped overweight. His journey begins with a visit to the doctor, who breaks out what appears to be the equally cartoonish Body Mass Index or some earlier iteration of the very short-sighted BMI scaling system.
This doctor, and his equally accredited compadres, are the only ones who can tell you whether or not you’re in good shape. They’re also the only ones who can prescribe your solution to the issue they themselves have diagnosed.
To legitimize the dependence on physicians, they point at fad diets and snake oils. Essentially “because there’s wrong information out there, you can’t be trusted to sift through it and make your own decision. Therefore, it’s foolish and irresponsible for you to do anything by obey licensed medical professionals.”
The rest of Cheers for Chubby fine, promoting self-control and discrimination in food choices. The typical low-fat path of chicken, veggies, and lots of starch is recommended here. Milk is also recommended (based). Overall the message of discernment is fine, it’s the wholesome hint of truth that allows the rest to be absorbed.
Cheers for Chubby’s message was two-fold. First, to convince people that surplus weight was correlated with poor health. (okay, fine) Second that the only person who knew how to determine your healthy weight was a medical professional. (oof, that’s a reach)
So begins the offloading of self-care from traditional wisdom to the academic establishment. Instead of managing your own wellbeing, some apparatchik of the academic cathedral has to make 400k doing that for you. To rather poor results, I might add…
I like retro stuff though, I like the time-machine rear-view-mirror type of perspective this sort of content provides, so this little blast from the past was enjoyable nonetheless.
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