You read the title correctly- according to every food product commercial I’ve ever seen targeting women customers, I’m supposed to feel guilty about everything I eat that does not fall under the diet or low calorie label.
I think pretty much everyone is familiar with how skinny models on the covers of magazines affect a woman’s body image but only recently did I start paying attention to commercials for food. Just this morning I saw a truvia ad. These ads always catch my attention because of their obnoxious jingles but today I was annoyed even further by the ad itself:
That woman looks MISERABLE. Like she is disgusted with herself for taking a *bite* of a donut. What’s even worse is that she is a beautiful woman! Not fat by any means, pretty face and features, but of course they styled her with a flat, frumpy hairdo, bland pale makeup, a plain outfit and placed her behind a desk in a dismal office. I don’t doubt that people like her exist out there and this commercial only serves to remind them of their misery and promise a solution- truvia. Which of course isn’t a solution at all. She should start valuing herself for her other qualities. She should exercise and eat healthy because she doesn’t want to get diabetes or heart disease, not because she feels pressured to look a certain way. Truvia isn’t going to turn her into a supermodel with no problems.
What’s worse is that instead of marketing truvia to diabetics, a population that seems to embrace and love this product, they chose to prey upon insecure women who, if I go by the model customer presented in the ad, do not even need to lose weight. Should I be surprised? Of course not.
To my male readers (if I haven’t lost you yet): think about the food products marketed to men; “Chunky” soup, “HungryMan” tv dinners, bacon-wrapped anything. Conversely, the world is telling you that if you don’t eat like a fatass you aren’t a man. It is “girly” to care about your appearance and your health. You should be equally offended because wanting not to die of a heart attack is an incredibly valid desire. Men who have suffered from heart disease or are at a high risk for it do not deserve to feel like wimps for not eating high-cholesterol foods. Of course this isn’t nearly as pervasive as the above technique for marketing to women but it is still worth noting.
Ok returning to the title subject- I am just going to brainstorm and pull out products off the top of my head that target women’s body issues: most yogurts, special k, lean cuisine, weight watchers, smart ones cookies, slim fast, I’m sure this list could grow and grow. It is sad and frustrating that there is a whole industry of food products built upon women’s insecurities. Why can’t food be androgenous? Why does it have to be male or female? Why do men get to gorge on whatever they want and women have to limit themselves to low-calorie nibble-sized portions? Fortunately I am not the only one making note of this trend: http://www.harpyness.com/2011/02/09/attention-women-big-food-hates-you/
Women everywhere- I challenge you. I challenge you to eat whatever the hell you want and enjoy it. Start loving yourselves and let that be the driving force for any change you feel you need to make, not media-induced guilt.