It’s probably a bit late to write this blog post, to be fair, but as you’ve probably all noticed by now, dieting adverts are everywhere, mainly due to New Year I guess. And, as usual, the majority of characters in these adverts are women. Believe it or not, some men want to diet too, and alienating 50% of your target market for the sake of perpetuating gender stereotypes is really not a good idea. Another common theme this year is that (if you happen to be female, anyway), happiness and/or confidence is guaranteed when you lose weight; or, worse, that weight loss is the only way to attain it.
Take this year’s advert by LighterLife, for example. Synopsis: A woman dreams of becoming a singer but instead settles down, gets a job in a bank and “eats without thinking”. Then she goes on a diet and suddenly, her singing dream comes true; the implied message being “lose weight in order to achieve your dreams”. Seriously. The advert’s YouTube description claims it is “a daring new brand identity to challenge the conventions of the weight loss industry”. Honestly, I don’t see what’s being challenged at all; is it the fact that women have dreams that’s seen to be “daring”?
So many other dieting adverts this year start by talking about happiness and/or confidence so the public will see them as different or even empowering, but in reality they’re linking this happiness and/or confidence. For instance, this Special K advert starts by lamenting people being “defined by a number”, then goes on to say “We believe in a more powerful motivation… not a number, but the way you want to feel.” The slogan is “What will you gain when you lose?”. Again, the implied message is that you must lose weight to feel good about yourself. Also worth noting is this year’s WeightWatchers advert, in which Patsy Kensit goes on a diet because “If there’s anything I’d like to get back, it’s my confidence”. Same again – to get your “sparkle back”, according to WeightWatchers, you have to lose weight.
No. Just no. This is sexism, body policing, and just plain wrong.