We don't always think twice about the magazines that for years have been strategically placed near grocery store checkout lines for all to see.
But one teacher is making waves online criticizing the Canadian grocery chain Loblaws for its decision to sell the tabloid The National Enquirer -- specifically, an issue ranking celebrities' "best and worst beach bodies."
In an "open letter to Loblaws," Brandon Field writes that the tabloid's cover, which splashes "beauty, blubber and cellulite," "belly disaster" and "larger than life" alongside unflattering celebrity photos, perpetuates school bullying by sending a negative message to young women that they must have flawless bodies. Field writes, in part:
As a schoolteacher, how am I to demonstrate to my students the importance of treating others with respect when everywhere they look society is sending a message to the contrary? I shudder at the thought of my teenage students seeing such magazines at your checkouts, only to question their own bodies.
I am sure that Loblaws has not fully considered the damaging effects that these magazines can have on teenagers, and society as a whole, and that you will agree that they have no place in your stores. I have recently seen many of your ads which promote your community involvement, including one filmed in St. John's. If your company is truly dedicated to making a positive change in the community, then you will act swiftly to remedy this problem. I believe that as a responsible member of the Canadian business community, it is only prudent for your company to remove these negative tabloids from your stores.
The letter, posted to Facebook early Tuesday morning, had already garnered more than 3,000 shares as of Tuesday afternoon. Comments praise Field for his effort, and a number of Facebook users have tagged Loblaws in their shares to attract the company's attention.
UPDATE 12/11 5:10 p.m.: Loblaws spokesperson Mark Boudreau issued the following statement to The Huffington Post Tuesday evening:
We agree that these types of headlines, and the concerns about them, are understandable.
I can assure you that it is definitely not our intent to upset customers while shopping in our stores. All magazines entering our stores are based on an authorized list with titles that we approve based on sales performance in the marketplace as well as popularity among various demographic groups. We are very diligent with the type and quality of magazines that appear on our racks, however, the challenge is that with approximately 1,000 titles it is impossible for us to monitor each and every magazine that enters the store to ensure that it is sensitive to all customers, especially in light of the fact that we do not always know ahead of time what caption or headline will appear on the next issue.
As with music, while we cannot audit every magazine that is released, but we can take proactive measures. For example, we have advised certain publishers to bag their magazines in an effort to shield young children from potentially offensive material. We are also working closely with our wholesale distributor to provide an advanced warning whenever an authorized magazine is about to be released that is in questionable taste. We then review the cover and make an appropriate decision. We will continue to be diligent in reviewing our policies on these types of materials entering our stores, but in the meantime, we have removed the issue of the magazine from all our Dominion stores in Newfoundland.