Six Ounces of Thin?

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.

This entry was posted in Body, Body Image, Feminism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Six Ounces of Thin?

  1. There’s so much awfulness in that commercial it’s hard to know what to say. Celery is evil. Women must “be good” or else punish themselves in some way. “You’ve lost weight” (to an already underweight woman) is the most desirable compliment one might make or receive. Yoplait not only missed the boat here … it doesn’t even seem to know that the boat exists. The company makes a product with great health benefits … and yet there is absolutely no mention of those benefits in this commercial.

    • Caroline, you are right. The commercial positions the phrase “You’ve lost weight” as the ultimate in compliments. Something we (all viewers) should aspire to hear, as if that phrase alone will mark our success and happiness. Thanks for the feedback!

  2. RK says:

    Yeah, that commercial is pretty terrible. A friend and I were recently joking that if you watch daytime television, “modern women” aren’t allowed to eat real food except for a) yogurt or b) rice crackers or c) cereal. This post also reminded me of Sarah Haskins’ Target: Women clip on yogurt – have you seen it?

  3. This is a great spoof and collection of food and body regulation. Yes, cereal is also a “food” that keeps on repeating. I love Sarah’s commentary. Thanks for the link!!

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