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Upcoming Webinar: Weight Stigma in Entertainment Media

A Media Empathy Foundation Webinar

Weight Stigma in Entertainment Media

The Media Empathy Foundation will pre-record a 45 minute Webinar on the topic of Weight Stigma in Entertainment Media. It will be available across all time zones to see at your convenience. While more attention is being paid to the way characters of higher body weight are portrayed in film and TV, disparaging narratives persist.  Weight stigma is so embedded in our culture that it often goes unnoticed: “does this dress make me look fat?”

On top of that, we don’t know how to talk about “people of higher body weight” (which is Media Empathy’s choice of nomenclature).  The Body Positivity Movement prefers the word “fat.”  Medical narratives use “obesity.”  All agree that calling anyone “morbidly obese” is terribly wrong… we don’t call someone “morbidly cancer.”  So, how do we change the narrative and portray people of higher body weight with authenticity and empathy?

The Webinar will include a brief presentation about weight stigma by expert Rebecca Puhl, PhD, followed by a discussion to answer three key questions that highlight  “character intention” as a guidepost to determining if a script or portrayal is or isn’t disparaging:

  1. Why was Brendan Fraser’s performance in The Whale one that inspired empathy and not stigma?
  2. What are some general examples of weight stigma in TV and Film that often slip through because they’re not “intended” to be disparaging?
  3. What then should be considered, when writing in a character of higher body weight?

Please feel free to send us any questions that you’d like to have addressed before June 15th and we’ll include as many as we can within the timeframe.  One that’s already come up: “is it ever ok to use body weight stereotypes in the name of satire or comedy?”

Meet our Expert Panel

Helene Ellison
Helene Ellison
President & Founder

Helene Ellison is a 35-year veteran of the healthcare communications industry with expertise in corporate and product positioning, media relations, advocacy and issues management.  Before founding the Media Empathy Foundation, she served as Global Chair of the Healthcare Practice at Burson-Marsteller and previously as founder, president and CEO of HealthStar Public Relations through transaction.  She has also led healthcare divisions at Edelman and Omnicom Networks.  Helene has served on boards or worked pro bono for a number of not-for-profit organizations throughout her career including the American Liver Foundation, The Obesity Society, Convergence and The Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins.

Bruce Littlefield
Bruce Littlefield
Creative Director
Bruce Littlefield is a best-selling author, lifestyle expert, and arbiter of American culture.  Hailed as a “lifestyle authority” by the New York Times and as a “modern day Erma Bombeck” by NPR, he appears on NBC’s Today show, CBS’s Early Show and ABC’s The View and Good Morning America, as well as MSNBC, Rachael Ray, The Soup, and The Better Show. Bruce’s author and co-author credits include New York Times bestsellers with well-known personalities: Use What You’ve Got (with Shark Tank mogul Barbara Corcoran), My Two Moms (with civil rights advocate Zach Wahls), and The Sell (with Bravo star Fredrik Eklund.)  Bruce has been awarded the Audie Award for best business book, a Christopher Award for humanitarian journalism, and The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences named his master’s thesis “Best News/Public Affairs Program.”
Dan Berndt
Dan Berndt
Chief Technology Officer

Dan Berndt is a 38 year veteran in Technology, 20 of those at Morgan Stanley, Executive Director of the Enterprise Data Organization’s global Data Infrastructure Group successful in architecting, building and deploying highly stable secure data infrastructure supporting trading and core business systems. Besides technical expertise, Dan excels at large multi-year technology initiatives in strategy, planning, budgeting and project management. Previous accomplishments included real-time trading systems development for convertible bonds and international trading at Morgan Stanley, preceded by 5+ years at IBM in application and database development as well as product sales and marketing. Dan now focuses on consulting and freelance projects addressing small business, nonprofit and home technology needs8

Steve Gold

Steve Gold is founder and President of The SGNY Group Inc. established in 2007 to serve companies and nonprofits with content production and distribution. Prior to that he was the CEO and President of both Steve Gold Inc., an advertising and marketing agency with commercial and long form production capabilities and TVN Communications Group Inc., a business- to-business broadcast services agency which provided broadcast PR tactics to companies and their agencies. As a commercial film director, Steve has been the recipient of both Emmy and Clio Awards along with a long list of festival entries for the PBS documentaries that he has written, produced and directed.

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