Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness scolds Apple for giving children eating disorders

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Let me start by saying that I understand there are people who suffer from serious eating disorders, and I’m not writing to belittle those people in anyway…but I can’t help but feel like the AEDA might be over-reacting just a little bit here.

The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness issued a statement yesterday because of their concern for Apple’s slogan for the new iMac – “You can’t be too thin, or too powerful.” The phrase is a play on a famous quote from the Dutchess of Windsor.

In their statement The Alliance questions, “What kind of message is Apple sending our youth with an ad campaign of this nature?”

They continue to on in the press release to explain how people CAN be too thin – after several paragraphs of statistics the group states the following:

The Alliance is concerned that the new IMAC Campaign, while well intentioned, has the potential to push a young girl with low self-esteem into a deadly disease or trigger a person struggling with recovery back into the throws of an eating disorder. “The negative implications are too numerous to count. There must be a better way to sell computers then to utilize this dangerous slogan,” said Ms. Kandel.


So these people are seriously releasing a statement saying that the slogan appearing on Apple’s website is going to “push a young girl with low self-esteem into a deadly disease”.

I almost can’t believe these people are serious. The more I try to think of the right thing to say here the more flustered I become. The idea that anyone could possibly become anorexic because of an ad on an Apple website is so completely ridiculous, that I can’t help but think the group is using this opportunity to get some free press.

I have to say that I’m a little disgusted by these people.

Apple hasn’t officially responded, but has removed the slogan from their site. I assume this is a fight that just isn’t worth fighting. It’s a slogan. Nothing more. It will not harm your children.

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

9 thoughts on “Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness scolds Apple for giving children eating disorders

  1. Yeh, I’m pretty disgusted too. They are right up there with the people that think video games and heavy metal kill people.

    How about educating your childen the differnece between right and wrong? I hate it when I see parents screw their kids up and blame something else for it. Why does that “young girl” have low self esteem to begin with? Sounds like a bad upbringing to me. No positive reinforment at home (by the parents), and parents that are too busy to noticve that their kids are actually people too.

    I better stop….errr!

  2. does such kind of behaviour really surprise you in a country where you can pour hot coffee over your head and successfully sue the guy who sold you the coffee, because it didn’t say “careful, it’s hot!” on the mug? 😛

    of course it’s just a pr stunt. quite a silly one, yes, but still.

  3. Wait a minute! Sometimes people overreact when they are deeply passionate about something. Before we start bashing people with eating disorders in the comments, let’s think about what the letter was meant to do (even if it did not do it well). Apple probably should have thought about who they were going to offend when they approved the ad campaign. While I disagree with AEDA’s opinion that the ad might trigger relapse, I do think that Apple wasn’t thinking, well like Apple, when it approved the campaign. AEDA was, however, doing exactly what they are supposed to do. They have members (who probably have suffered from eating disorders or know folks who are). Some may have been hurt by this ad. If the non-profit does not react strongly, they will lose members, and then they won’t be able to do what they really want to do (health care, lobbying, etc). So, let’s do one better than the AEDA and not get sensationalist in our tone. Let’s do one better than Apple as well and think about how we might hurt people before we put stuff on the web.

  4. “Let’s do one better than Apple as well and think about how we might hurt people before we put stuff on the web.”

    Let’s do one better that that and get a life. It would be one thing if they put something blatantly offensive like “The new iMac, smarter than a black person”, but they didn’t.

    They probably should have used “It” instead of “You”, but this is crazy.

  5. True – this one ad may not push a person on the very precarious border of an eating disorder over the edge.

    The problem is in our society – where people are obsessed with weight and appearances. With this slogan, Apple is reinforcing the culture’s message that one must be thin to be accepted and beautiful, powerful and desired.

    And that is where the danger lies. Not just to those genetically predisposed for eating disorders, but for everyone. For all the children who grow up believing that they must look a certain way, be a certain size to belong, to be accepted, to be loved.

    That IS dangerous.

  6. Michael,

    when you say you “understand that there are people who suffer from serious eating disorders” you most likely have not had one of them in your family or closer environment. IF you would have had, then probably your writing would have been different and more sensitive. Your article shows a lack if investigation but is instead driven by your personal “disgust” – which is not really what your readers can expect.

    If you had read the statement you quoted more carefully, then you would have understood that nobody said people are becoming “anorexic because of an ad on an Apple website”. In fact, it was about being a small additive impulse which could – together with other factors – lead to a problem. For sure, you are no expert in how anorexia evolves for certain people and which amount of tiny bits lead – in the end – to this illness. As Jeff wrote: Why not “it” but “you”? There is no such thing as “only a slogon” because everything that is published is carefully selected and balanced to reach a certain goal. You – as a journalist – should be very much aware of this…

  7. @Tom

    Don’t presume to know my life or my family.

    I read the statement, and I fully understand what they are saying – I just don’t buy it. Plain and simple.


    First, let me say that I agree with almost everything you said. The problem IS our society. That’s what I find so infuriating. Groups like this should be focusing their efforts on where the actual problems exist.

    I have a 4 year old daughter, and it makes me sick to see these women walking around wasting away on television and in magazines. I don’t want her looking up to these women as role models.

    She was explaining The Little Mermaid to me the other day, making sure to point out that the sea witch was mean BECAUSE she was UGLY. I was horrified by that. We sat down and talked about how the way people look doesn’t determine who they are…but when I got looking at all the Disney movies and the Barbie movies and all of that – I noticed that the bad guys ARE always ugly – so what was she supposed to think?

    That’s why we talked about it, and hopefully she understands. We will continue to talk about it as she gets older because it is important for her to know.

    And I understand this organization probably does go after these magazines and what not – but what upsets me here, and what is the core of what I would still classify as disgust – is that a computer is not a person.

    For a computer, you really CAN’T be too thin, or too powerful.

    There are no insanely thin women holding the iMac. If this were an ad campaign where a boney, unhealthy looking woman was holding an iMac with that phrase – I’d be right there with you…but I cannot and will not get behind an organization that has decided using the word “thin” in a positive light anywhere is wrong and dangerous (and that’s what I took form their press release).

    I mean (and I’m being serious here) what about the naturally lanky kids out there that can’t HELP but be thin? Isn’t this press release that condemns even the use of the term “too thin” as dangerous just as potentially threatening to them? What if they read this site and stumble across the press release where they see that even the eating disorder organization thinks that “too thin” is a terrible thing?

    My point is that there has to be a line…and I believe that calling out a computer company – any computer company – because they are advertising that their computers are thin is crossing that line.

  8. “With this slogan, Apple is reinforcing the culture’s message that one must be thin to be accepted and beautiful, powerful and desired.”

    No, with this slogan, Apple is stating that you can’t be too thin or too powerful in the world of computers. It made no mention of eating or fat and/or skinny people.

    This is absolutely insane…

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