Kellogg’s Anti-Fat-Shaming Ad: Progressive or Creepy?


Okay, so many thoughts and feelings about this. I was just talking to a psychology professor at a faculty event today about how the diet industry teaches women that they don’t have the ability to listen to their own bodies when it comes to food; we are bombarded with the message that we need to be regulated and monitored by a (highly profitable) diet industry to be “healthy”. We also talked about how fat shaming is still rampant in the media, so for my own physical and mental health I just avoid media that is going to make me feel shitty about myself, or that misrepresents body diversity as abnormality.

Then rewind a couple more days, when I was buying bras at Lane Bryant. I ended up talking to two sales women for about twenty minutes about how most of the fashion industry makes ladies like us (size 16 – the supposed average size of the American woman) feel like bloated freaks, which means that THEY DON’T GET OUR MONEY. This seems kind of short-sighted, no?

Advertisers might be able to sell stuff based on fear, sex, desire, etc, but shame doesn’t really make me want to spend time around that brand.  So these lovely ladies and I were talking about how nice it is to have a couple of stores like Lane Bryant and Torrid that sell stuff that shows off our curves, rather than camouflages them, in an environment that is non-judgy and fun. It was a very Girl Power Solidarity kind of conversation, and it kind of made my day.

Then I watched this ad. So many thoughts.

The good:

  • Advertisers seem to be waking up to their epic stupidity when it comes to body shaming, whether fat or thin. Fat (or short, tall, or pregnant, or petite) women have just as much money as medium height skinny women. Want to make money? Celebrate body diversity.
  • The demographics of women in the ad are pretty broad racially and physically, though the age range seems pretty limited.
  • Talking about fat-shaming openly is a GOOD THING. The more we are aware of how self-destructive it is, the less of it we’ll pass on to our children as either an acceptable way to abuse themselves or others. Shaming ourselves or others’ bodies is crap. It’s an epidemic of crap, but it can change. So thanks, Kellogg, for outing it.

Not so good:

  • Fat shaming is not going to go away by saying “shhhh!” It’s going to go away when we start talking about it and acknowledging that it’s destructive and looking at the underlying assumptions about femininity that cause it.
  • I’m not sure how happy I am that this serious issue is being used as a selling point for a cereal. It remains to be seen how committed the company is to this as an issue, rather than a marketing point.
  • From Kellogg’s fightfattalk.com site “We believe that fat talk is a barrier to managing our weight and, when so many women are doing it, we’re all further from reaching our goals.” Um, how about we just talk about how we abuse ourselves and how that is holistically a bad thing, rather than how it keeps us from getting skinnier, kay?
  • I have a hard time believing this was a “real” ad – the women have particularly flawless makeup and look amazing on film, and there are a lot of pops of Kellogg red lipstick. In the end, it just feels very slick and manipulative.

What do you think? Is it a good sign that companies are starting to cater to more diverse women, or is it just creepy that they’re using dismorphia as a selling point?

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