Pregnant Boys, Photoshopped Girls: Public-Health Ads Cash In on Shock Value

The newest: pregnant teen males and children fattened by photoshop. What do you think about these ads? There are plenty of pictures...

The creators of public health campaigns necessary have a fine line to walk. They’re tasked with educating a somewhat immovable public about sensitive health information it would often rather ignore by grabbing its attention with over-the-top ads, preferably without offending anyone in the process. Not easy, if you ask me.

This may explain why so many of the ads end up being controversial, as tactics such as scaring, shocking and even downright shaming viewers into adopting healthier lifestyles have become more and more commonplace. Don’t believe me? Check out these two health advertisements that have drummed up controversy recently. Warning: Things are about to get weird.

Boys Are Pregnant in Chicago

It’s not everyday you see a pregnant male, unless we’re talking about Thomas Beatie on “The Oprah Show” or Arnold Schwarzenegger in his 1994 film flop, Junior. And I guess that’s sort of the point.

The city of Chicago recently unveiled new ads that are of a noticeably, er, unnatural variety. Images of male teens with large, apparently baby-filled, bellies stand next to the tagline, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and STIs. Use condoms. Or wait.”

Check it out. They definitely have a shock factor and are certainly bizarre to look at. I’m all about reducing teen pregnancy, but do you think they will be effective? Or are boys with baby bumps just too over the top?

California Goes Too Far with Photoshop

For years, photo doctoring has been used on images to create a “slim and trim” effect, but it’s not too often we hear about it being used to visually fatten someone up. Especially when that someone is a little girl.

First 5 California is taking some heat for its newest anti-obestity ads. They took and picture of a perfectly healthy child, added some Photoshop magic, and—voila!—created an image of an obese little girl drinking from a sugar-filled bag with a straw. The ads were meant to draw attention to that fact that sugary drinks are contributing to childhood obesity. Check out the before and after pictures. Overall, I think this is a fail—the digital alterations don’t even look realistic.

Critics of the ad thinks that it “fat shames” children, according to the Huffington post. My take: childhood obesity is a huge problem, but there must be a better way to target it than using a campaign that potentially makes overweight kids feel worse about themselves. What do you think?