Sunday, January 29, 2012

Because when it comes to women, Progresso believes Less is More

Most of the ads I comment on don't actually make me angry. I point them out because I find them stupid, boring, cloying, dimwitted, or insulting.

This commercial makes me angry, because I don't find it to be any of those things. Instead, I think it's manipulative, disgusting, retrograde, and so blatantly sexist that it leaves me wondering if we've made any progress (no pun intended) at all in the past several decades.

It's been fifty years since we first started to use Barbie dolls to brainwash little girls into believing that to be attractive, they had to be six feet tall, with wasp-thin hips and enormous breasts. Disney Studios has been an active, eager contributor to the damage, bringing us Ariel, Belle, Pocahantas, Snow White, etc.- none of whom seem in possession of internal organs. And of course NutraSystem rakes in billions by explaining to perfectly healthy women that they aren't really "attractive" unless they are devoid of body fat of any kind.

And don't get me started on the stick figures wrapped in strings which regularly grace the Sports Illustrated "Swimsuit" Edition (like anyone would actually swim in those things. Come on.)

"THEY FIT"! yells the woman into her tin can phone. The guy on the other end doesn't get it- after all, guys don't worry about their weight, and why should they- I've seen enough sitcoms to know that beautiful women are just naturally attracted to fat guys. Guys NEVER think about stuff like the BMI index, let alone trying to conform to some artificial standard of beauty- because for men, there simply isn't one. That's girl stuff.

"Um, is there a woman I can talk to?" Because only another woman, who has been taught all of her life that only by becoming smaller can she be at all desirable, and therefore of Value, could understand her new-found joy.

This is really sick, Progresso. Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes. This "there's less of me, so I'm better" crap has been jammed into American women long enough. How about promoting health, which has nothing to do with promoting thinness? How about NOT contributing to poor self-esteem, Bulimia, depression, and other damage caused by the relentless "Fat=Ugly" message? How about recognizing that there are more important things than your quarterly earnings report?

How about being part of the solution, instead of being just another part of the problem?


  1. This is a tangent, but I really hate the existence of the Sports Illustrated "swimsuit" issue, since it has nothing to do with swimming as a sport. Its existence is based on the premise that the magazine's target audience consists of heterosexual male sports fans who enjoy looking at the models in swimwear as a sanitized version of p*rn. If a sports magazine is going to do a swimsuit issue, I want a swimsuit issue that targets swimmers--both male and female--and features the best suits for the various types of swimming, whether it's pool swimming or an outdoor swim that's part of a triathlon. I know triathletes who'd be all over that. And it's not as if they couldn't find some photogenic athletes to model the stuff--but it wouldn't be fashion models in bikinis. It would be athletes in utilitarian swimsuits and wetsuits.

  2. Sports Illustrated doesn't give a damn about swimming- in fact, the magazine gives precious little attention to women who aren't models, giving very short shrift to women's sports, and only "celebrating" women (like Danica Patrick) that they consider "camera-friendly."

    SI doesn't celebrate women, it celebrates sexism. For money. Your tangent was quite welcome, thanks.

    1. It also celebrates other unpalatable aspects of jock culture such as the need to look the other way when Coach is banging evidenced by their slobbering pitifully over Paterno's carcass.

  3. 1 -- The publicity machine behind Danica must be enormous. Danica Patrick is OK, but there are much better looking women drivers active in car racing. Do a Google search on "Erin Crocker" and see for yourself.

    2 -- The idea that men don't care about their appearance or weight is ridiculous. Here's an easy example -- why would "Axe" run ads telling you to clean up so you can "get some hair action" unless they thought the target audience would be receptive?

    Here's another easy one -- people in several professions, including mine (military), are required to meet height/weight standards. The standards vary depending on sex and age, but they're there. Members of the service who don't meet them are discharged. Since my full time employment and future pension and benefits depend in part on my being able to maintain height/weight standards, do you think I'm interested or disinterested in the results my bathroom scale displays?

  4. According to television, men actually DO have a standard to maintain- however, that involves being unshaven, with uncombed hair, and wearing shirts that are not tucked in. In other words, men achieve the standard simply by rolling out of bed every morning.

  5. Thank you! I grieve almost daily for the young girls who are exposed to this incessantly. first Barbies, and now Bratz(Barbies with makeup-caked faces, sultry, leering eyes, oversized lips, and sugestive "clothing")

    In a post of yours about a internet service provider commercial, you mentioned that a girl who would use it to "study (text my boyfriend)" looked about thirteen. She could be a mature-looking eleven-year-old and no one would bat an eye. America's Got Talent featured a four-year-old boy who gave a shout-out to a "girlfriend", before breaking into some MTV-type dance. The shout-out and dance were both considered adorable.

    It's gravely frightening what our children are allowed as "normal".