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Is New PETA Campaign Featuring Overweight Woman Sexist?

The animal rights group PETA has launched a new billboard campaign in Jacksonville, Florida that is raising the ire of some people who think it is sexist. The billboard features an overweight woman, with the tag line "Save The Whales-Lose The Blubber: Go Vegetarian."

PETA says the point of the billboard is to get people to stop eating meat, and as an added bonus, vegetarians weigh less than meat eaters.

PETA's press release reads:

A new PETA billboard campaign that was just launched in Jacksonville reminds people who are struggling to lose weight -- and who want to have enough energy to chase a beach ball -- that going vegetarian can be an effective way to shed those extra pounds that keep them from looking good in a bikini. The ad shows a woman whose "blubber" is spilling over the sides of her swimsuit bottom...

Anyone wishing to achieve a hot "beach bod" is reminded that studies show that vegetarians are, on average, about 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters...

"Trying to hide your thunder thighs and balloon belly is no day at the beach," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman.

But many people are outraged, saying it is sexist to use an overweight woman to get a point across. The website writes:

I know I shouldn't be surprised by PETA's latest billboard campaign in Florida - after all, their brand of activism has proven to be sexist and racist time and time again - why not fat-shaming to boot?... This (stuff) is just shameful."

Jessica Wakeman at writes:

Oh, God, now even billboards are judging us? Insults and fat-shaming aren’t tried-and-true ways to encourage tofu instead of burgers. But something tells us that wasn’t the point: Bigger women were the ones chosen to be dehumanized so this cruel, sexist billboard could get some chuckles. Gross.

And Kimberly Morrison at the Jacksonville Business Journal:

I love animals and I like a lot of things PETA does, but this campaign is tacky, mean-spirited and seems to take pride in publicly humiliating two-thirds of Americans who are overweight. Not cool.

PETA has yet to respond to the sexist accusations. But PETA might very well point out that it is an equal opportunity offender, making fun of fat men as well. Here's part of PETA's blog on the billboard campaign:

What does the Sunshine State's endless summer mean for PETA? Our phone lines ring off the hook with reports of "beached whale sightings."

That link will take you to a photo of an extremely overweight man.

Fox News took on the issue as well. Watch here:


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