NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In a city full of electric, eye-catching advertisements, one controversial billboard is turning heads in Times Square.
The pink billboard prominently place in one of the tourist capitals of the world says “Got cravings? Girl, tell them to #SuckIt” and features a smiling young woman sucking on a lollipop, which the company Flat Tummy says are supposed to suppress your appetite.
Sophie Vershbow, 28, who has struggled with eating disorders in the past, says its nothing short of a dangerous diet ad.
“Its so potentially harmful to so many people walking by it, and I felt like we finally needed to take a stand and try and get it taken down,” she told CBS2s Jessica Layton.
She tweeted, “Hey Twitter, Lets use our power for good by guilting @FlatTummyCo into taking down their Times Square billboard advertising appetite suppressants. Love, A former-anorexic teenage girl.”
Lets use our power for good by guilting @FlatTummyCo into taking down their Times Square billboard advertising appetite suppressants.
A former-anorexic teenage girl pic.twitter.com/Tiyj1fwrpD
— Sophie Vershbow (@svershbow) July 9, 2018
“Theyre creating the problem by telling you you need a flat tummy to be desirable,” she told Layton. “We need to give people the tools and the education to get them healthy and into a good mindset.”
Vershbows campaign is catching on, with actress Jameela Jamil tweeting, “EVEN TIMES SQUARE IS TELLING WOMEN TO EAT LESS NOW? Have we actually gone mad? Why arent there any boys in the ad? Why is it (expletive) PINK? Because you feel men can look however they want? Their goals are to be successful. But ours are to just be smaller?”
Some moms have called it a body-shaming billboard.
“Obviously, its suggesting that if you have a flat tummy, youre a better person, and I dont link that message,” one woman said.
“Not really offensive to me,” said another.
Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have promoted the product, and while some people say you cant police every sign you seen, the companys claim that the 35 calorie pops are natural and safe have not be evaluated by the FDA, Layton reported.
Flat Tummy has not responded to CBS2s request for comment, but the companys website does say you should consult your doctor before trying any of its products or any dietary supplements at all.
The companies that own the billboard also did not return our calls or emails.