Since making the decision to walk to work and back, I have become more observant of advertisements. We are bombarded with them on a daily basis: the television, radio, modes of transport, giant billboards and bus stops. When I used to catch the bus for work I would only really remember the adverts at the stops I would use, and notice when they were changed to advertise something else. I have been walking the same route as the bus more often recently as it is slightly quicker than going the more scenic route however, doing this made me think of an idea for a feminist blog.
On my most direct route to work I pass many bus stops, and in that period of 40 minutes, there are currently four advertisements for Slim Fast. Slim Fast, as you can guess by the name, offer weight loss products which, if used accordingly, means the consumer can lose body weight quickly. What made me want to write this blog is that all of these four adverts that I see every day, the same woman appears.
From what it appears on the advert, this woman is of slim build. On one of the adverts, she is leaning back on what appears to be a kitchen counter, and looks relaxed. Her smile, to me, is not genuine though. It looks fake. The text in red which appears across her upper body states ‘Works for me’. This implies that if women were to use Slim Fast products, then they would achieve positive results and look like the build of the woman on the advertisement. Additionally, the other advert is titled ‘Showtime Saturday’ and the woman states ‘I’m chilled’, while she is in the process of drinking a Slim Fast milkshake. This implies that women could or should consume these fast weight loss products while they are watching television, since binge watching back to back episodes of shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. with takeaways and snacks seems to be the encouraged and current norm for staying in on a weekend evening.
The fact that only a woman appears on these weight loss advertisements suggests that these products are aimed at women, and that it is women who should be maintaining and looking after their own body weight. It also seems timely that these Slim Fast adverts have appeared, not just because they are promoting a new range of products, but it is not long until Christmas. There is a general consensus that people gain body weight and fat over the Christmas period, since we buy each other sweet unhealthy treats and stuff our faces with endless amounts of food. The advert could be suggesting that women should aim to lose body weight quickly in the run up to Christmas, so that they are prepared for weight gain, and then of course, Slim Fast will more than likely return after the Christmas holidays and encourage women to lose the body weight that they have gained, alongside all of the gyms encouraging people to apply for a ‘much needed’ membership.
Actually, don’t most adverts promoting weight loss only include women, who appear to be so happy with the results and would recommend it to their female friends? Products with lower fat and/or sugar content always seem to be advertised by women, such as Activia and Muller light. I cannot think of a single advertisement that has had a male promoting a weight loss product. It seems that advertisements aimed at men, in terms of their bodily health, promote muscle. By gaining muscle, men are able to gain a fit physique and be admired by women for their ‘hours of training’ at the gym. I don’t know much about the giant tubs of tablets and powder that you can buy which supposedly facilitate with muscle gain and increasing protein intake, but they always seem to be aimed at men.
While men are encouraged to gain to fulfil their masculinity, women are told that they should lose weight to achieve the perfect physique, such as being beach ready with a bikini body. Do you see what’s going on here? Throughout history, women have traditionally been expected to make sacrifices and are dictated on how they should behave, while men have been implicitly advised on what they can achieve, and that they don’t need to lose out on anything.
These ideals in the divide between the sexes is upheld by the world of advertising. The divide has always been an opportunity for businesses to exploit and manipulate consumers into buying certain products. A simple example is body wash products. Many shower gels, shampoos and conditioners are aimed at one sex or the other, even though they all do the same job. One thing that startled me once was when I was looking for cranberry tablets in Tesco for my dog Oscar. The first packet I picked up advertised the tablets for women! What difference could there be between cranberry tablets for men and ones for women? Why is there a need for this difference?
I could go on with many more examples of sexist advertising, but this blog has been written in order to be critical towards advertising concerning weight loss for women. The fact that I see four advertisements with the same woman is detrimental to women’s health and well-being. This statement is bold, but it probably affects many women on their daily commute to work. Many of us face enough hardships on a regular basis just because of our sex, so promoting fast weight loss so many times on one route is dangerous. We live in a world where people have become impatient, due to how quickly we can get to places, the speed of surfing the internet, the unbelievable pace of technological advancements etc etc. We want results fast, and we want them now! Weight loss fits into this as well. Losing weight quickly is unhealthy and means that you are more than likely to put it back on again. Slim Fast offers a quick solution, but not a permanent one.
I’ll admit, I have used Slim Fast products, but I didn’t follow the instructions as specified. When I changed my diet last year in January, I would drink a Slim Fast milkshake and eat a healthy snack for my lunchtime meal. To achieve optimum results, you are supposed to have two milkshakes and how ever many Slim Fast snacks throughout the day, and one low calorie meal. Since my goal is to achieve weight loss over a period of time and keep it off, I decided against the recommended usage outlined by Slim Fast and decided to use their products as a facilitator in my weight loss. Plus I was lazy about making lunch and as a student, I wanted as much sleep as possible before going to university or work. So making a milkshake was very quick and simple, and saved time.
I am glad now that I have stopped using Slim Fast products, especially since seeing the advertising. Since my aim is to lose body weight and fat and keep it off, other methods are required. While losing weight fast can feel good and people notice, it is not a healthy way to go about dieting. I’ll take the good old fashioned route because I’ll feel happier that way; I’ll be healthier in the long term.
Happy reading and blogging!