Oh how I love Natalie Dee!
Expensive little non-eco-friendly cups of skim dairy, artificial sweeteners and fruit of dubious origin – I have little love for conventional yogurt. With all the great health benefits of full-fat plain yogurt that is not only super cheap but super easy to make at home in your crockpot, I don’t see any need to buy the processed stuff. But for all that it is not, is Yoplait a trigger for eating disorders?
Watch this first (possible trigger warning for eating disordered thoughts):
It’s an advertisement for Yoplait lite yogurt that features a woman looking at a raspberry cheesecake in the fridge and going through all the mental gymnastics that many women do when deciding what to eat. These voice-over thoughts have sparked a controversy in which NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) asked Yoplait to pull the commercial and the company complied. The issue at hand is that some of the woman’s thoughts evoke certain eating disordered mannerisms. For instance:
“I was good today, I deserve it!”
“I could have a medium slice and 8 celery sticks and they would cancel each other out, right?”
“Or I could have one large slice and jog in place as I eat it.”
Her thoughts are interrupted when a thin coworker pushes the cheesecake aside to take a raspberry cheesecake yogurt ending with the conflicted woman complimenting the thin woman on her weight loss.
This ad is lame. Raspberry cheesecake isn’t “bad” and one certainly should sit down and enjoy their food – whatever it is – rather than jogging in place while eating it. But as a recovering (always with the -ing) disordered eater myself (and one who’s typically oversensitive on these issues), I didn’t take any offense to this ad nor did I find it triggering. Well no more triggering than I find daily life. Jezebel makes a good case as to why the ad promotes ED’d behavior but I think targeting a yogurt commercial for encouraging dieting is like chastising Lindsay Lohan for parking on the curb – clearly there are bigger issues to deal with. After all, isn’t the very existence of “lite” yogurt a paean to diet behavior?
The president of NEDA, Lynn Grefe, says, “opening a refrigerator is like walking off a bridge. And to see this behavior in a commercial tells people with eating disorders, see, it’s even on TV. It’s ok and normal for my head to go through all these mental exercises.” While I see her point, I daresay that while it isn’t a healthy behavior, it’s pretty normal. Every girl I know goes through some kind of mental evaluation before she eats something and yes it often involves some kind of bargaining. I’m not saying we should encourage this behavior but I am saying it’s not limited to people with eating disorders.
Why spend our time fighting a silly yogurt commercial when we have shows like The Biggest Loser that are not only actively promoting eating disordered behavior but are teaching people how to do it? Who cares about lite yogurt when half the country thinks they should be able to lose 10 pounds in a week by running on a treadmill for 8 hours a day and eating only asparagus and sugar-free Jell-O? Lest you think I’m being too harsh on the Biggest Loser franchise, first Jillian Michaels and now Bob Harper are schilling diet pills. And remember Season 2 Kai Hibbard’s heart-breaking story?
And please don’t tell me it’s “just entertainment.” One of the most poignant conversations I’ve had of late is with a mom friend of mine who told me that her chubby 12-year-old daughter will sit in front of The Biggest Loser every week with paper and pen to takes notes on how she can lose weight. If NEDA’s put out a statement against this show, I couldn’t find it. And TBL is just one of many similarly themed shows, commercials and videos that thrive on our extreme diet mentality and demeaning attitudes towards women’s bodies. I mean Kanye West is walking around killing women and then carrying one of their dismembered heads around for 5.5 minutes in his new video (that I’m intentionally not linking to but if you want to see it, google it – totally NSFW!) and we’re issuing press releases about yogurt?
I’m not sad that Yoplait pulled the commercial but I am disappointed that we can’t muster the same level of outrage over images and ideas that are far more harmful to women than aspartame-in-a-cup.
What’s your take – is the Yoplait commercial offensive or triggering? Do you like lite yogurt? Am I being too hard on The Biggest Loser? Anyone else horrified that Kanye’s new video is being excused as “art”?