Weigh In: How Are You Feeling?

Posted January 8, 2013 by Katherine Toll in Building Your Brand

I stood riveted as I watched what I thought might be television history. “What will you gain?” a female voiceover asks as woman after woman steps onto a GIANT scale in Times Square.

Instead of numbers, words such as confidence, moxie, and satisfaction pop up on the mammoth Times Square billboards. Holy shit! Was this actually a commercial that decided to skip the “weigh yourself, feel unworthy” message in lieu of a more modern message? Weigh yourself and feel good about yourself!

I spent 40+ years waiting for this moment! A nationally televised commercial (from a consumer packaged good company, no less) celebrating women’s beauty regardless of their weight!

The women celebrate and high-wave each other over their “weights” as the female voiceover continues,

What will you gain when you lose? Take the Special K challenge to lose up to six pounds in two weeks.

I felt like someone sucker-punched me.

For a brief moment, I felt uplifted as I watched a perfectly normal-weight woman stand on a scale and rejoice! But, it turned into another grand illusion that reinforces the tired, worn-out notion that thin equals happy – all compliments of the marketing geniuses at Kellogg, … those SOBs..

The message implies that when the woman loses weight, she will feel the emotion plastered on the billboard – satisfied, confident, courageous, etc. However, this begs the question: Should the woman feel unsatisfied, unsure, and weak until she loses the magic six pounds??

Once again, we hear the message that our self-worth and weight walk hand-in-hand. Lower number on the scale – feel confident! Higher number on the scale — feel disgusted!

What’s worse? During an interview with Advertising Age, the Kellogg spokesWOMAN, Kim Charles said the campaign deals with,

Relatable wake-up calls women have when they’ve realized it’s time to lose a few pounds.

Kim — YOU DING-DONG! Because something is relatable does not make it right! I completely relate to a friend when she tells me she feels fat. We use ‘fat’ as a euphemism to really convey I feel like a failure, I feel ugly, I feel unlovable, etc.  That’s not right!! But, it is how the media educates us.

Jean Kilbourne, internationally recognized for her pioneering work on the image of women in advertising puts it more succinctly,

The fact is that much of advertising’s power comes from this belief that advertising does not affect us. The most effective kind of propaganda is that which is not recognized as propaganda.

Amen, sister!

About the Author

Katherine Toll

Katherine (Kathi) Toll possesses more than 20 years of management and consulting experience within the retail and beauty industry. Her industry experience combined with her special brand of irreverence fuels her mission to find the ‘must-have’ beauty products for Career Girls of all ages. She aspires to remind women the airbrushed perfection of the beauty industry must be tempered with a healthy dose of humor. Kathi holds a general management certification from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, along with an undergraduate degree from Northwestern’s School of Communications.