How Kelloggs Manipulates Your Shame

You’re not defined by your weight! You’re so much more than a number! Imagine getting on that scale and seeing “Joy” and “Spirit” and “Drive” instead of your weight. Doesn’t that celebrate the wonderful person you are? I’ve just described a Kelloggs commercial. If you’ve seen it, would you find yourself thinking “Wow, isn’t this a step in the right direction? Kelloggs understands how I want to feel about myself!” After which you’d make a mental note to pick up some of those tasty looking Kelloggs cereal bars because they’d be such a “healthy” choice, right?

Kelloggs’ commercial series featuring happy, smiling women gleefully jumping on scales that display positive sentiments instead of numbers is, in fact, the most insidiously manipulative campaign currently on television. Think carefully about the slogan that closes the commercial, “What will you gain when you lose?” What the slogan is really asking you is what positive traits will you be demonstrating when you lose weight? How much of a better person will you be when you finally get your fat butt in gear and drop a few pounds by eating Kelloggs cereal bars instead of Snickers?

The women getting on the scales are seeing those positive reinforcements as a reward for improving their weight. They “gained” a reward when they “lost” weight.

Kelloggs is not saying you’ll be rewarded with improved health if you lose weight. Kelloggs is asserting that you’ll be a better person when you display the better character traits of someone who loses weight. Lose weight and you’ll experience “Joy” when you step on the scale and see a lower number. Lose weight and that lower number will prove you’ve shown “Spirit” and “Drive.” Were you thinking the commercial was telling you your weight didn’t matter? Do you see now that the message is actually telling you that losing weight is an expression of positive character traits you DO NOT possess when you’re fat?

Never mind that what Kelloggs wants you to do is eat nothing but their products for two meals a day for two weeks. It’s just an unbalanced crash diet and almost anyone who did it would gain the weight back. How about a scale that would flash “Vitamin Deficient” when you step on it?

Here is a commercial from this series. Notice that at first the commercial seems to be saying it’s not about the number on the scale but the real message is that you’re NOT “Sassy” until you lose weight and fit into smaller jeans:

A vicious dichotomy preys upon the deep shame our culture imposes on fat women and exploits the severe difficulty some of us experience in trying to take control of our weight. Many books and seminars and workshops are sold that try to convince us to “embrace our curves,” love and accept our bodies as they are and somehow that will make us love and accept ourselves and “make peace” with food. There are three MASSIVE and deeply exploitative flaws with this mindset.

First, it contends that your real problem is that you hate yourself. You’re weak and self-destructive. The fact that you’re fat is supposed to “prove” this. Aren’t you glad to know you’re such a mess? Second, what you have been struggling to do for years is take control of your weight. “Embrace your curves” has become a euphemism for “just accept being fat.” There are curves and then there is weight that induces metabolic syndrome. And finally. The worst aspect of this contemptible propaganda. It purports to convince you that you are not defined by your weight while at the same time telling you the key to happiness is accepting your weight.

We liberate ourselves when we realize we really ARE NOT defined by whatever our weight is and we can separate our sense of ourselves from the temporal state of our bodies. We can feel joy when we’re fat. We can show spirit and drive when we’re fat. We can be anything while we are fat that we could be if we were thin.

As fat people, we come to believe we are who society tells us we are. We define ourselves and our abilities as society defines them for us. When we have lost sight of our own substance and our own abilities, taking control of our bodies and our lives becomes a struggle. We release the struggle and take control when we stop trying to function by someone else’s definitions and instructions. Joy is already within you. Go ahead and experience it.


    • Karen Sosnoski on February 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Appreciated this line: ” How about a scale that would flash “Vitamin Deficient” when you step on it?” (Actually, really wouldn’t be so bad to have a scale that flashed this…)

    • Teresa Clark on September 2, 2013 at 9:34 am

    I would love to have the tape measure with the positive affirmations.

    1. Hi Teresa! Thank you for stopping by. It’s interesting you should happen to comment on this post because I caught this commercial on TV just yesterday for the first time in a LONG time.

      I did a quick search for some kind of “affirmations” tape measure and couldn’t find anything. Still, if somebody made one they might put all the better affirmations below 36″ or so!

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