One of the great things about watching all of my TV on Hulu and Netflix is that I don’t see a lot of commercials. For the past couple of days I’ve been dog sitting two super cute pitbulls and so I’ve been watching cable, which means watching a ton of crappy weight loss commercials. The only thing that’s stopped me from hurling something heavy at the television is that it’s not mine.
The most insidious examples right now seem to come from Special K. They are using a size acceptance message to sell weight loss. It’s gross. In some commercials they’ve stolen size acceptance tools like Marilyn Wann’s Yay Scale and Amanda Levitt’s Body Positive Measuring Tapes. Claire Mysko over on The Frisky did a great job of taking this down.
The one I keep seeing is this one:
As a catchy song about having a good day plays in the background, a woman is shopping for jeans and the tags all say words like Confident, Va Va Voom, and Ooh La La. A voiceover comes on and says
Wouldn’t it nice if we focused less on the number…
Yes, yes. Ye gods yes! That would be fan-frickin-tastic!
…and more on how the fit makes us feel?
Um, I guess – if you mean finding jeans that fit us – maybe this is going to be a commercial about how jean designers should make rocking styles in more sizes?
Take the special K challenge, drop a jean size in 2 weeks and slip into size sassy.
What the…? Oh hell no. You’ve just substituted “Size Sassy” for “Smaller size”. Who is falling for this? Replacing numbers with words doesn’t actually change anything, the message is the same: You will be better when you are thinner.
The website is worse, “It’s not about the number on the tag; it’s about how a pair of jeans can make you feel: Sassy, confident, even fierce. Special K has a variety of free plans to help you slip into a size sassy.”
If it wasn’t about the number on the tag then couldn’t ANY size jeans be Size Sassy, including the size I’m wearing right now? I couldn’t help but notice that they suggest that for EVERY woman Size Sassy is one size smaller. (So for me, sIze 24 would be Size Sassy, but my friend Donna would have to be a size 000.) Of course, if you become a size smaller and watch their commercial you’ll learn that Size Sassy is – you guessed it – one size smaller. I think I have a new theme song for Special K (sung to the tune of “Tomorrow” from Annie)
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll wear Size Sassy, tomorrow, It’s always a size away!
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it’s because they can make a lot more money if they can convince every single woman that she needs their weight loss bullshit.
How did this happen? Is it possible that women have been so thoroughly bombarded with messages that we should all hate ourselves and hate our bodies (by advertising from the diet industry including Special K – I haven’t forgotton their “you can’t pinch an inch” campaign) that it’s not working any more?
It looks like this goes back to the start of the “What will you gain when you lose” campaign Special K developed after a study that they commissioned from Edelman Berland, a markeing and PR “research” firm, that found that “a positive attitude toward weight management might actually help you succeed.”
Fascinating. It turns out 9 out of 10 women who report that they think positively about weight management also reported either losing weight or maintaining weight in the past year compared to “only about half” of women with a negative approach.
How is this study highly suspect? Let me count the ways. There’s the aforementioned choice of research firms. Then there’s the methodology – they interviewed “more than 1,000″ women who described themselves as “weight conscious” to find out just what they think about their success or failure. Ok, dude. Self-reported information on dieting by people who describe themselves as weight conscious talking about what they believe led them to succeed or fail at dieting does not a strong study make. Then there is the fact that they are looking at only a year – we know that most people can lose weight in the short term, but most gain it back within 2-5 years so using a one year period doesn’t really tell us anything about long term weight loss. Also, comparing 9 out of 10 to “about half” seems suspicious. Why not give us the actual number? If they interpret 7 as about half then this is quite a bit closer than it might sound.
So, says Special K, we should all focus on how the “fit makes us feel”. Well, that and two special K meals and 2 special K snacks each and every day – if you stay on the diet for a year you can consume 1,460 Special K projects – can’t wait. They say that the average weight loss is a 4-8 pounds (or roughly the weight you could lose if you loofah’d regularly for two weeks.) And remember the study they commissioned wasn’t about people who did the Special K diet, just women who describe themselves as “weight conscious.” As with every diet plan, they have absolutely no proof that this plan will lead to long term weight loss, nor that it will lead to health. They do seem pretty certain that it will lead to profits.
I’m definitely interested in how the fit of the jeans makes me feel. And if I don’t like it, I change the jeans – not me. I have a positive attitude – I’m positive that based on the evidence the vast majority of people who lose weight on this program, or any diet/lifestyle change/etc. will gain it back, and many will gain back more. I’m positive that was my experience when I dieted (though of course that’s not extrapolatable.) So I’m positive that I’m never going back to a dieting lifestyle and the willful suspension of disbelief it would require. I’m positive that I’m a Size Sassy whatever jeans I wear. And all that without spending a dime on products that market to me based on the idea that I’m too stupid to figure out that the new marketing is the same as the old marketing.
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