Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Beyoncé, Why Do You Hate My Children? (an open letter)

Dear Beyoncé,

I have 3 beautiful little girls - 8, 5 and 3. While they're not quite old enough yet to know who you are, I've no doubt they'll both discover and adore you over the course of the next few years. What you say to them, what your advertisements will say to them, will likely carry a great deal more weight than what I might say - after all, I'm just their dad, whereas you, you're Beyoncé. And apparently you're going to tell them, either directly or indirectly, that you love drinking Pepsi Cola.

The New York Times reports that your recently inked Pepsi deal will last for years, cost them $50 million, and for Pepsi it's meant, "to enhance its reputation with consumers".

Of course it's also meant to sell Pepsi - at least $50 million dollars more worth.

Beyoncé I'm sure you're aware that these days the world isn't the healthiest of places, and that the consumption of huge amounts of empty and often sugary calories is contributing to the burden of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity - and here I'm not even talking about adults. With truly terrifying regularity, kids under the age of 10 are being diagnosed with what was once referred to as "adult-onset" diabetes. Teens are having heart attacks. In your own lifetime, childhood obesity rates have tripled. You might even be aware that in North America, teen girls get 15% of their daily calories from soft drinks. Why would you want to perpetuate that tragedy? In fact I'm virtually positive you're aware of all that given your involvement with Let's Move. So I have to ask: Is your star fading? Did you make some terrible investments? Do you think sugared soda's not as bad as the medical community makes it out to be?

I can't fathom why a star as successful as you would want your own wagon and brand selling Pepsi. While I appreciate that you owe my little girls nothing, I would have hoped that someone with your star power wouldn't need or want to sell children sugar water.

Beyoncé, why do you hate my 3 little girls?

Yoni Freedhoff, MD

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  1. Anonymous7:45 am

    Why don't YOU teach your kids, instead of letting Beyonce do it. That would make more sense, instead of blaming a businesswoman for hating kids she doesnt know. So you would turn down 50 million dollars? Stop blaming others for what YOU should instil in your own kids. Lemme guess, rap music making them kill people too? You're a jackass sir.

    1. Jocelyn Ulvick8:45 am

      To the individual who posted the above message:
      In addition to keeping your rude and misdirected comments to yourself, you also may want to return to some of Dr. Freedhoff's previous posts (for example, why not take a look at yesterday's post about advertising within the food industry?). From these, you would see that this issue is far greater than one individual can manage on his own (and it certainly has nothing to do with rap music!). Of course we as parents should be teaching our kids to make healthy food choices, but why should we ALSO have to battle against multi-million ad campaigns promoting their poisonous "food" products to children?

    2. Ah, the "anonymous" food industry troll speaks...

    3. Oh what utter crap, Joceyln. It's a PARENTS responsibility to control their kids, not Beyonce's to to do so. You'd sell out your soul for $50 million dollars too.

      Because the problem with this country is not evil companies and junk food, it's lazy parents who think it's someone else's job to raise their kids.

    4. Anonymous3:46 pm

      It doesn't sound like Dr. Freedhoff is arguing that parents don't have a role but that the general advertising environment makes it very difficult for parents to overcome advertising messaging. You wouldn't put in alcoholic in a room where their choices for drinks are 90% alcohol and 10% tap water and expect them to only drink the tap water.

    5. Lyle, spoken like a true non-parent (or one who is blind to the issues facing his children). Parents can control what's in our homes. We can teach our kids to make good choices to the best of our abilities. We can even limit tv so they aren't exposed to too many ads touting chemical, sugary, crap. However, they WILL be exposed to it, often in places we'd least expect. Schools peddle it. Teachers hand out junk as "rewards." These companies spend billions (hello?? FIFTY BILLION to one celebrity alone) to ensure that our kids are exposed in some way. We can't control what happens when they leave our homes. You are an idiot.

    6. Of course I meant to say 50 million not 50 billion above.

    7. Yep, weighing in as a parent, I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Freedhoff. I know what's better for my kids but cannot and do not wish to police them 24 hours a day. All day long, well-meaning people will offer them Pepsi, candy and other crap. I am forced to allow my kids to make their own food choices at a very young age. And I know they won't always be the right ones. The food industry only makes my job monumentally harder - if not impossible.

  2. Anonymous7:55 am

    Beyonce doesn't need the money. I highly doubt she drinks Pepsi. She worked with Michelle Obama on the "Let's Move" campaign with the Move Your Body video. You'd think she'd care more about how she influences her young fans.

  3. Dear Dr Freedhoff, I am fully supportive of your open letter. With NCDs now the leading cause of death worldwide and young Americans facing a shorter life-span than their parents for the first time in history (due to obesity) - the time has long passed for naive and unhelpful rhetoric centred around blaming parents. Pepsi knows this move will sell soda. Their perverse and calculated marketing techniques also make parental health promotion near impossible - and they know this too.. We must challenge such moves and realise the power of industry and their advertising. Well done again on an important and timely discussion.

  4. Anonymous8:45 am

    I think you should send that letter or tweet it or whatever gets the message out. Celebs need to consider this (and their influence) before they endorse products like this

  5. Anonymous12:15 pm

    I see Pepsi have a Twitter campaign around this using #livefornow . I guess that's short for "Live for now, because tomorrow you'll have diabetes"?

  6. I think your great, not a "jack ass" I also think your 100%
    I wonder why she hates my little girls too!

    She's should have enough money socked away, that she shouldn't need the other 50 million

    Prehaps this will make her think twice? Got my fingers crossed on that!

  7. Anonymous8:23 pm

    I think I fall a lot more on the parental responsibility end of this spectrum. At 8 and under just who is buying your kids all that Pepsi?

  8. Hate to say it but I'd sell out $50 mil for a Pepsi endorsement.

    I feel weird defending the whole celebrity-endorsement thing but if it isn't going to be her it'll be Katy Perry or whoever else is hot at the moment.

    At the end of the day we have be the one's responsible.

    I get the whole satirical melo-dramatic thing. Worth a good chuckle.

  9. Wow, this debate is fascinating. The hateful anonymous writer should identify themself to gain some credibility. Yoni does not feed his kids Pepsi, but soon they will be influenced by outside forces, ie Beyoncé, friends, politics, and the world. It is silly to suggest that Yoni can police all of his children’s activities. Entertainers can make choices regarding who they endorse and I would suggest that an entertainer that appeals to young girls should not promote Pepsi, Coke or any other industry that has had a significant role in creating disease in America. Obesity is not solely the fault of sugar beverages, but they have a significant role. How many entertainers promote cigarettes? I am glad that the anonymous writer has sparked this conversation, and I hope that Beyoncé reads this blog. I love Beyonce's music, style and appeal, but I am deeply disappointed with this advertising endorsement.

  10. PepsiCo plans "snacks made into beverages"

  11. PepsiCo Looks to “Drinkify” Snacks

  12. Anonymous6:51 pm

    I am a teen right now, though my parents were good and taught my how to be healthy. I agree this is a parents job to do. I am active in sports and work out everyday. Beyoncé has done nothing to change what I drink and I would believe it true for most children.