After receiving complaints from the National Eating Disorders Association, General Mills has decided to pull the following Yoplait Yogurt commercial:
The Association argues that the internal dialogue, the back and forth self-bargaining, that the woman in the commercial has with herself is very similar to the internal negotiations that people with eating disorders engage in constantly. And they are right.
What is most startling, though unsurprising, about this commercial for me is the punishment and reward system that riddles our food and body cultures. Ultimately, if the woman in the commercial wants to be thinner (an adjective culturally linked with beauty), the choice is hers. She can either eat the raspberry cheesecake or she can have a six ounce, low-fat, raspberry cheesecake Yoplait. She chooses the Yoplait, led by the example of a seductive, thinner woman who models the socially sanctioned eating behavior.
It’s not like this is anything new. Advertisements for low-fat, low-calorie foods abound. But this commercial’s overt discourse of bodily policing is jarring. The cultural assumption is that we have the control to make ourselves thinner which unfortunately means more beautiful, more attractive, more successful. In a word: happier. The woman’s internal dialogue and final choice makes this clear. She chooses the “right” choice and goes for the deliciously low-fat alternative. Inherent in this constant self-talk and bargaining is that one must alter and constantly improve the body. This argument is contingent upon the belief that there is always something within us which requires fixing.
In this system, the body that desires, the body that does not fix, is abject. This body must be battled and conquered on a daily basis via food choices and via cultural shaming. I think I have had my full.