ABC shares edited Bluey episode after ‘fat-shaming’ controversy

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The producers of popular children’s cartoon Bluey and the ABC have responded to criticism a recent episode of the show was offensive by removing a controversial scene and republishing it.

The episode, titled Exercise, aired on April 16 and depicted Bluey’s parents, Bandit and Chilli weighing themselves on a set of scales. After seeing how much he weighs, Bandit, Bluey’s dad, sighs and grabs his stomach, then embarks on a new exercise regime.

The ABC has removed a scene from the Bluey episode Exercise after some viewers criticised the show for sending harmful messaging around body image.Credit: ABC

The scene drew criticism with claims it sent the wrong message to young audiences and that the focus should be on exercise and good health rather than how it relates to body image.

Paediatric dietitian Dr Kyla Ringrose also criticised the inclusion of the scene on social media, saying, “Watching Bandit and Chilli weigh themselves and openly hate on their bodies in front of the kids was really uncomfortable,” she wrote on social media. “I love the message about being active with your kids, but this wasn’t good watching at the start.”

The newly edited version of Exercise sees the scale scene removed entirely and instead begins with Bandit exercising in the backyard with Bluey and Bingo.

An ABC spokesperson said: “The recent episode of Bluey, Exercise, has been republished by the ABC following a decision by the makers of the program. The new version provides families with the opportunity to manage important conversations in their own way.”

“As the home of Bluey, the ABC supports the decision to re-edit the program and we have updated the episode on our platforms. BBC Studios will use this revised version for global distribution and also support this decision.”

Since it first aired in 2018, Bluey has gained a massive worldwide audience, with Bandit’s improvisational approach to parenting and playtime inspiring mums and dads everywhere. But despite the show’s popularity, this is not the first time Bluey has found itself at the centre of wider cultural debate.

In 2020, two episodes of the Emmy-award-winning children’s show were pulled from ABC streaming platform iview after a viewer complained an episode contained a term with “racial connotations”.

Two episodes — Teasing and Flat Pack — were temporarily pulled from the platform while the term was edited out. The ABC received a complaint from a viewer on June 28, 2020 about a term used in the episode titled Teasing.

The viewer complained the episode included the term “ooga booga” which “has racial connotations and a problematic history for Indigenous Australians”. The two removed episodes were edited to change the dialogue.

In 2022, the series was again dragged into controversy when an episode called Dad Baby, in which Bandit acts as if he’s going through childbirth, was banned by US distributor Disney+.

Disney+ has also previously removed other episodes of the show, including when Bandit received a vasectomy and an episode about a family meeting that takes place after Bandit is accused of farting in daughter Bluey’s face.

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