Real Habit Heroes

From Disney's Habit Heroes exhibit at Epcot's Innoventions, Will Power and Callie Stenics.

At Innoventions in Epcot, Disney has joined up with Florida Blue and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to create a new exhibit that would encourage “children of all ages to learn healthy lifestyle habits and become more active.” With Habit Heroes Will Power and Callie Stenics, they fight off characters like Sweet Tooth and The Snacker, all the while shooting tomatoes and carrot sticks at pies, cookies and cakes.

While seemingly harmless in their intent to improve the health of an increasing population of those who are overweight, the experience seems to have backfired and has caused considerable controversy. Articles on the Huffington Post and on blogs like Weighty Matters have particularly taken aim at a number of bad habit characters like The Glutton (overeating and eating too fast) and the Lead Bottom (not enough exercise) Their comic images suggest stereotyping of those who are struggling with obesity.To add insult to injury they then go on to feature other bad habits on the Disney web site such as Control Freak (which focuses on video game addiction, but could be extended way far beyond that) and Insecura (lacking self esteem–a topic that has implications far beyond forming a good habit).

Just in case you didn't know what an insecure person looks like, here it is.

In truth, I think that the focus on the causes and results of bad habits is mis-directed, Rather, it should focus on the causes and results of good habits. Furthermore, I think the exhibit focuses unduly on two bad habits (laziness and over-eating) in a world of many, many bad habits. While we are all blessed with great qualities and strengths, we all have some weaknesses, all of which are not as apparent as obesity. You need Habit Heroes that attack all of those bad habits, not just those obvious ones–which undue attention can lead to stereotyping.

Here are the Habit Heroes I would have created for this attraction:

Measurin’ Mecham. He looks at how much time he spends playing with his little brother, helping out around the house, doing home work, or getting necessary sleep at night. He makes smart decisions based on how that time is used.

Goal Settin’ Sarah. She sets ambitious, but attainable goals, and marks her progress on how well she is doing. The goals she sets allows her to find success in many areas of her life, and not solely on one thing.

‘Countability Cathy. She seeks out great people around her like friends and family members who she can share her progress with and who she can get supportive feedback from. She knows that accountability creates a support structure for accomplishing her goals.

Balancin’ Betty. While she knows that achieving excellence in key areas is important, she also knows too much of anything, even really great habits, can cause her to miss other important opportunities around her.

Focusin’ Frank. Frank focuses on his own progress, and not on others. He knows that to compare himself to others all the time, he will either become fairly vain about himself, or very disappointed with himself. So he centers on his own need to improve.

For me, these are the real habit heroes in my life. And I think people who do these things will be better equipped to deal with the challenges they face in life, whether those obstacles are around relationships, work, or personal lifestyle. I also don’t think that these heroes discriminate against whatever weakness or challenge we may face–especially those weaknesses that are physically more obvious.

What do you think? Who are your habit heroes? Share those with us on our blog found on our home page, and let’s better define who are truly our Habit Heroes.

Post Note: It appears that the exhibit along with the website have both been shut down. These attractions are very expensive–no matter who pays for it. Reworking the attraction the right way is not cheap. I applaud Disney’s courage in closing down the attraction to make it right. I also applaud the fact that dealing with issues like childhood obesity takes courage as well. I just hope that the changes Disney makes, truly makes it a great attraction, and not simply a politically correct one.