Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Special K, The Fat Shaming Cereal

I'll be honest, even if I liked the taste of Special K, I would never spend a dime of money to purchase it because of the continual fat shaming focus of its commercials.  Sure, they have a few ads with plus sized women but largely, Special K, sells the idea that if you eat their cereal, you can attain or retain a slim physique.  The following ad is appearing in Canada but with a different person doing the voice over.

transcript below the fold
A video shows a young woman on the computer looking at herself and her three friends playing at the beach, all in swimsuits.

Remember when we couldn't wait to get into our swimsuits? Well, this summer, let's bring back that joy with My Special K. Starting now, create your free, personalized slimming plan with loads of healthy recipes and delicious Special K cereals and snacks. Let's love summer like we used to. Carefree summers. What will you gain when you lose?

When it shifts back to her as an adult, she is now playing with a small child in a swimsuit.
Kellog is not unique in marketing itself as a diet product to women. We are their target audience and market because women in particular are repeatedly told that we cannot be skinny enough.  Though there are certainly fat man who must negotiate sizeism, at least as far as advertisers are concerned, they are not a viable market.  The sizeism men face is quite different than what is aimed at women, though it is equally as harmful. Kellog preys upon the idealized body images women are raised to think of as the norm, thereby; leaving us always in search of a perfection the majority of us will never achieve.

I love summer, and I love to be able to wear shorts and skirts and short sleeves.  I love long lazy summer afternoons, but according to advertisements like this, I shouldn't be able to enjoy this because I am fat.  No, what I need to do is eat this damn cereal until my body is socially deemed swimsuit worthy.  The media constantly suggests that we have to wait to live our lives if we are fat because fat people just shouldn't exist.  We are something to be tolerated, and certainly not people who should be allowed to take up public space.  No matter how hot it gets, unless we are wearing a parka, or clothing covering every inch of skin because rolls, loose flesh, varicose veins, or cellulite is too unsightly to be seen, let alone be thought of as attractive we are attacked and shamed relentlessly. The message is to conform at all costs and if you can't do that, then have the decency not to expose your disgusting body to others.

Let's face it, no one has to diet to get into a swimsuit because they come in a variety of sizes but yet every spring and summer we are inundated with the message that we must change our bodies.  Don't enjoy the season, don't be active, and be prepared to hideaway in your house.  You're better off stuffing your face with Special K until you slim down and hope that you can manage it by next year. I am sick of this message year after year and each time I see this commercial, it fills me with rage.

Advertisements like this keep people off balance and always searching for perfection.  It's never really about being healthy but about fitting into an ideal few women will ever manage to achieve.  Part of the way that fat hatred works is the ideology that if fat people are shamed enough that they will change.  There is little consideration regarding health issues which cause weight gain, or the fact that the so-called norm is not appropriate for everyone.  No one needs to be told that they are fat, or shamed because everyday we are inundated with this message.  This commercial is not benign with it's message that we  (read: fat women) need to change in order to have fun and enjoy the weather like everyone else.  It enforces in the mind that we don't have a right to be take up space and that when we dare to do so we need to shamed for our very existence.  In short, fuck Special K.

It's not uncommon to walk down the street as a fat person and receive cruel taunts, catcalls, and in some case strong acts like of aggression like having drinks thrown at you from a moving car. Fat shaming is so common that few see it as wrong and engage in it freely.  Far too many believe that a fat person can be shamed into being skinny and use this as a reason to continue to justify the oppression as good for fat people.  Believe me, there isn't a single fat person walking the earth who has not experienced fat shaming, or who is unaware of how they are viewed socially.