I am not ashamed to admit that I watch Lifetime Movie Network on a daily basis. It’s not even a guilty pleasure at this point: it’s heaven. My friend Jocellyn is sometimes caught in the crossfire, and last night was no exception. It was snowy out, we had just painted our nails – Lifetime was simply the natural conclusion to the evening. (Plus, it was True Movie Thursday – my favorite day of the week!)
As we watched, though, I began to pay more attention to the commercials than the movies themselves, and what I saw really bothered me. During every commercial break, there was at least one commercial for weight loss pills and/or diet plans. It was a constant barrage of advertisements suggesting that the way you are, right now, is not good enough, but if you take these pills or eat these pre-made meals, you can be beautiful and popular and worthwhile. No surprise that these were on the Lifetime Movie Network.. women are the diet industry’s easiest and most vulnerable targets, after all.
Consider this commercial for Special K:
At first, it seems like a body-positive commercial. Instead of numbers, the women (women – not men!) step on the scale and see cutesy words such as “Joy,” “Shine,” and “Pep.” How fun!
But, look a little closer at their slogan:
Image from Jezebel.com
Red flag. This is implying that you can only gain that joy, shine, and pep if you are losing weight – not a body positive message at all. What seemed to be a fun, confidence-building approach to weight is actually a corporate-driven ploy to buy diet food under the guise of inspiring words and pretty colors. The food itself is unhealthy, with little nutrients and highly restrictive caloric intake. On the Special K plan, a person would be consuming approximately 829 calories a day. 829! During my eating disorder, I was consuming around 500 – 800 calories a day; the fact that this advertised diet plan is supplying only thirty calories more than that is alarming.
It’s not just Special K, though, and it’s not only on Lifetime: these ads are everywhere, permeating our media and our subconscious. Instead of focusing on health, these ads are placing all the value on weight, and on the scale itself. What does this tell young girls? Women in general? How does this affect men’s expectations of women and their size?
Here is an ad for the diet pill “NV,” with Holly Madison as their spokesperson:
I find this ad especially irritating. She got her body back?? From what? Holly Madison’s body has always been fine, and she looked healthy. So what gives? Any female watching this would most likely be comparing their bodies to Holly’s, and feeling that, shit, if she is losing weight and she’s smaller than me, I must really need to. (Newsflash: you don’t.)
This next clip is from a year ago while Holly was promoting her television show. She talks about an incident where a producer from a Vegas burlesque show said she needed to lose weight, but she loves her body and doesn’t see her weight as an issue. Come on, girl – which is it?
There are countless other weight loss advertisements, but instead of flooding this post with tons of videos, turn on your television or open a magazine – you’ll see enough. Weight loss is fine if you are doing it for health reasons, but it’s ridiculous when you feel obligated to do it based on what society is telling you. It isn’t fair for women to feel like they are inadequate unless they are a certain weight. Numbers on the scale or your clothing tag do not indicate the type of person you are, or how beautiful. Only you can do that!
To end on a lighter note, here’s a video that made me laugh out loud while parodying these unattainable expectations. Enjoy, and please leave your thoughts in the comments section!