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 it’s nothing short of a dangerous diet ad.
“It’s 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 CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
She tweeted, “Hey Twitter, Let’s use our power for good by guilting @FlatTummyCo into taking down their Times Square billboard advertising appetite suppressants. Love, A former-anorexic teenage girl.”
“They’re 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.”
Vershbow’s 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 aren’t 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, it’s suggesting that if you have a flat tummy, you’re a better person, and I don’t 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 can’t police every sign you seen, the company’s 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 CBS2’s request for comment, but the company’s 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.