Head on over to YouTube, watch any old Weight Watchers, Slim Fast or other diet video. Any one, it doesn’t matter.
Now, I’m going to show you a little magic trick… I’m going to predict what they said, without even knowing what you watched! Ready?
rubs temples and pretends to think extra hard
- “Love your body!”
- “You deserve to look and feel your best!”
- “You CAN get your body back!”
Am I close?
(If I’m not, I owe you a Coke.)
I’ve discussed at length how brands aligning with body positivity and self-love (although positive at face value) is actually pretty terrible for those ideas when those brands have a vested interest in producing results that align with the opposite of that idea’s guiding principles. I’m not going to rehash that right now – click here and here to read more about that.
What I’d like to do today is remind you to be an analytical consumer.
Think about all the media that you consume… pages you follow on social media, magazines you flick through at the dentist, billboards on your walk to work.
Take note of those that seemingly promote body positivity, then look a little closer. How many of them actually attempt to fuse the concepts of weight loss and self-love in this weird amalgamated message that when you actually look at it, implies that you need to lose weight to love yourself?
Note: this isn’t to say that weight loss is inherently bad (because it isn’t, and can be beneficial in the right context!) but brands – weight loss brands in particular – have a loooooong history of subverting trends like body positivity in order to prey on customer insecurities and increase sales figures.
They know that if you want to lose weight and your self-esteem is low, they can spoon feed you some bullshit about why your worth, relationship and career success is directly tied to you using their ‘miracle’ product and magically becoming a better person by losing weight.
They know that fear is powerful… and like sharks seeking out blood in the water for an easy kill, they employ social listeners to pay close attention to the trends of the moment. They find out what consumers want and then try and position themselves as an ally to the cause, regardless of whether their company values actually align or not.
Spoiler: most of the time, they don’t.
I’m urging us — ALL of us — to be critical and analytical consumers.
If an advert implies that you’ll be worthy of love when you weigh less; if it tells you that you need a beauty product to be beautiful… look past the haphazardly plastered ‘JUST LOVE YOURSELF!’ message that they’ve appended to their campaign.
Because rest assured, they have a vested interest in keeping you small and if you were to love yourself, you’d no longer actually need their bullshit faux-empowerment.
Not all messages are as honest as companies want you to believe.