I know. Most people don't see very much or even anything wrong with it. It probably appears fairly harmless to most, maybe even funny to some. When I first saw it, it didn't sit well with me, but I ignored it. It wasn't until I heard others had complained that I took a second look. The problem with this ad is that it perpetuates an unhealthy atmosphere for women. If we break the ad apart, we discover that:
A. We (women) can only eat dessert if we are "good", otherwise, we don't deserve it, and even if we are good, we still don't quite deserve it.
B. We can't figure out our own hunger and needs, so we must bargain with ourselves, debate and fret about how much and what we eat. We can't have a normal slice of cake and be OK. It has to be a tiny little piece or, oh hell, let's just eat the whole fucking thing.
C. If we want to be thin (and by God we ALL must be thin or we have failed) we have to resist delicious foods.
Take a look at the two women. The one in a battle over To Eat or Not to Eat! is dressed rather plainly. She also wears somewhat unflattering glasses. Meanwhile, in walks the lady who has lost weight, full of confidence in her floral dress. Without hesitation (she's not tempted, she's perfect!), she goes to the refrigerator and pulls out some Yoplait. We all know it's the weight loss from eating Yoplait that gave her a spring in her step, right? Grooaannn.
Of course, there's no way to win. Yoplait wants us to believe that we are flawed and that thin people and those who resist desserts are more admired. Maybe if we eat their product, we can be skinny (successful) too.
This is the same type of advertising that the multi-billion dollar beauty industry uses to keep women feeling ashamed and guilty for who they are. Ads like these encourage young girls to focus on perfection and flawlessness, as if being beautiful should be a top priority. If we are thin, we are glorified, so it's no wonder younger and younger kids are developing eating disorders. How we look suddenly becomes more important than anything else in life. The problem is that we are all striving for images of beauty that aren't real. Whether it's a magazine photo that has been digitally retouched or the illusion of a character played in a commercial, it's not reality. The environment created by misleading ads and images is a dangerous one. The self-esteem of young girls suffers and we all continue to become products of this damaging environment. It affects all of us, whether we are aware or not, and most of us are not. These ads are subtle. Most people wouldn't think twice about this one, but there are very unhealthy messages in it. Others are are more blatant.
Here's what they don't tell you. Take a look at the crap that's in one of these cartons of yogurt:
The bizarre list of ingredients includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, red dye and gelatine, all things not found in most yogurt. Despite the artificial sweetener, there's still 10 grams of sugar in a six-ounce container.
Thanks, but I'd rather have the cheesecake.
Jean Killbourne, Ed.D., cautions that ads are quick, cumulative and hit us on a subconscious level. It's estimated that only 8% of an ad's message is received by the conscious mind. That means we process the majority of the ad subconsciously. We are affected, no matter how much we think we can tune out or ignore advertisements. We need to pay attention, not so much to the ad itself but to the lies companies are attempting to sell us.
This is a brilliant video on the topic of how women are treated by the Media: