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In-your-face guerrilla campaign targets sufferers of bulimia

24th December 2008

In-your-face guerrilla campaign targets sufferers of bulimia

posted in Eating Disorders |
German ad bulimia stickers

A German organization has launched a rather creative way to battle eating disorders and raise awareness of them. ProMädchen, whose name translates to “Pro Girl” according to Babelfish, has teamed up with ad agency red cell of Dusseldorf to create a guerrilla campaign that’s literally in the faces of those who struggle with bulimia.

The group is slapping stickers in the shape of bloody vomit on toilet seat lids in schools, universities, colleges and canteens. The sticker’s message reads, “Bulimia is curable” and lists contact information for additional help. I think this is a clever and effective way to specifically target those who need help the most. Kudos to ProMädchen.

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There are currently 12 responses to “In-your-face guerrilla campaign targets sufferers of bulimia”

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  1. 1 On December 24th, 2008, lena said:

    genius. They should do this everywhere. Not that it’ll stop everyone cause cause the problem’s more complex than a sticker, but its a start.

  2. 2 On December 24th, 2008, Micaela said:

    That’s really intriguing. Have you seen this site http://rimnotes.org/? It’s a little more subtle but a similar idea.

  3. 3 On December 24th, 2008, Rachel said:

    Agreed, Lena. But at least it puts the message and contact info for help in a place where it can’t be missed.

    I’ve never heard of that site, Micaela, but you’re right: It’s awesome. Thanks for passing along the link!

  4. 4 On December 24th, 2008, Stephanie said:

    What a great idea. Aggressive, but hopefully it makes people aware.

  5. 5 On December 25th, 2008, Valerie said:

    Ya know, I’m not feeling it.

    I think that the sticker has a shaming element to it. Its clearly not intended that way but ana and mia have a way of warping perceptions. I feel weirdly defensive when I look at it and I’m not even in the target audience…anymore. And typically, bulimics are people pleasers in the worst way so shame and guilt is already hand in hand with their illness.

    Plus, its a little like throwing paint on someone who wears fur. They’re just going to buy a new coat. Dutch Boy isn’t going to suddenly make these people empathize with minks.

    Women dealing with bulimia know what they’re doing and they know there are alternatives. And they don’t really need reminders of what their illness looks like. What they don’t know is that they are WORTHY of help.

  6. 6 On December 25th, 2008, Valerie said:

    I know what it makes me think of-

    its like putting a sticker on the an anorexic’s scale that says ‘ eat a sandwich already… here’s how you can get help’. Its in your face but its insulting to the person’s intelligence and only reiterating what the person probably hears everyday anyway.

  7. 7 On December 25th, 2008, Cecelia said:

    This is great and I agree that this should be everyone!

  8. 8 On December 25th, 2008, Sarah said:

    @ Valerie: I had mixed feelings about this and couldn’t quite put my finger on what I found so disturbing but you expressed it very well. While I don’t suffer from bulimia, I’ve had periods of time when I was extremely anxious about food and my weight and my biggest struggle facing it was that I was telling myself, “You are smarter than this and you know what is truly important”. I think this approach would make me feel very shamed.

    That said, I recognize that this group has good intentions and I hope that they are successful in someone’s journey to recovery.

  9. 9 On December 26th, 2008, Dr. Jeanette Raymond said:

    Anything that helps women consider treating themselves with respect is a good thing. You are providing a wonderful and useful service bringing hope to all those who abuse themselves by using food as the whipping rod. Giving sufferers out there a forum to talk about their experiences is a very meaningful way to help women get in touch with their feelings rather than just suff themselves with food, or try to throw it all up again.

    I help women who use food to “stuff” their bad feelings so deep inside that it can never come out and hurt them – sas anger that may explode and damage fragile relationships. They would rather be fat than feel the awful feelings of rejection, emotional abuse and imperfection.

    You can check out my articles on anger and fat at http://www.drjeanetteraymond.com/

  10. 10 On December 31st, 2008, Jennifer said:

    I’m 29, and have been suffering from bulimia (“purging types”) and bouts of restriction and overexercise since I was 13.

    No matter how far along I was into the disorder, no matter how far away I am from it, if and when I happen to see one of those stickers in a toilet? I’d likely rip it off or deface it.

    Moreover, I have had more than dozens of opportunities to see for myself whether or not it’s curable. It’s finally happening now, when it’s the proper time for me and when I’m able to safely move beyond it.

    Trust me, I know that my compulsions aren’t healthy in the least. But the moment at which I’m about to purge isn’t the time to remind me of that, or reintroduce the concept. Perhaps putting those stickers in places of food purchases/preparation? I know that’s not very feasible, but in my eyes it’s just as feasible as my ingesting food, needing to remove the food from my body by any means necessary, and then being swayed at the last minute by a supposedly graphic and jarring sticker.

    Which, by the way, really looks rather adorable to me, but I suppose offending the non-disordered by having a truly shocking sticker that might actually change someone’s desire to purge is too high of a risk. An image of someone’s corroded teeth, or of a ruptured esophagus, now that might give me pause for concern.

    Or it might just make me go, “Oh, another person is judging me–thanks!” Or I’d feel as if there’s another unreachable standard that I’d have to surpass.

    I wonder what kind of research/testing was done to observe the effects that this approach would have on the disordered vs. the non-disordered, as well as seeing if other demographics like age would affect the outcome.

    In addition, and this is likely going to sound crazy…but if I’m already in the process of beginning to purge, mentally/emotionally it might be safer for me to just go ahead and do it, than to deal with the manner in which I’m going to torment myself for eating the food and not getting rid of it. I am NOT condoning my behavior at all, but wholesale condemning it doesn’t sit well with me, either. The whole situation is horrible, just simply hellish. I’m already going to annihilate myself for wanting to purge in the first place, and then for doing it…so then I’m going to crucify myself for those things, as well as then feeling as if I’m going to gain 15 pounds?

    Again, I’m really wondering about the intended audience for these stickers. They really are a brilliant idea, and I can definitely see how they could potentially make someone think twice–especially the so-called “vanity bulimics,” or the ones who are using it as a method to achieve weight loss.

    But those with eating disorders–not the disordered eaters? Especially if they’re deep/years into the diseases? I’m not so sure.

    I suppose it’s worth a shot though.

    Just as I suppose that it’s worth my ripping it off if I saw one.

  11. 11 On January 5th, 2009, Susan said:

    Thank you Micaela for posting the link to the rimnotes website. I like the rimnotes messages (“Hug yourself instead”, “Accept yourself” etc.) much better than the German “splatter” stickers, which I think are kind of insulting to someone with bulimia. (Well, to THIS someone with bulimia at least.) *I didn’t know such stickers- either the German ones or rimnotes- really existed. I think they can do good- at least make someone pause and think before purging. When I was in college a very sweet girl had overheard me purging, and, trying to help, she posted signs above EVERY toilet in the dorm, saying bulimia is dangerous and no one desrves to feel bad enough to throw up, etc. etc. I threw up anyway, but I admit the signs above the toilets did make me stop and think that someone cared, that I didn’t have to do this.

    I don’t know what my point is… I guess just to say that posting stickers/signs right on the rim of toilets is pretty intriguing, and if done tastefully (i.e., not with a picture of vomit-splatter), it may do some good.

  12. 12 On January 7th, 2009, violin kid said:

    I don’t think the sticker paints a very good picture of those who suffer from it, and might dissuade bulimics from coming out. It might even turn people off from people who suffer from the condition. They’ll think of vomit splatter each time!

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