Don't model this...

I was reading a newsfeed on the Something Fishy site (Blogger only let's me post 5 stories at a time, so their's is sometimes more complete) and I found this article:

I knew from the headline that this article could fall into trouble very easily and very quickly. But I was curious, so I read it anyway.

The quotes were appalling.

Former model Rachel Hunter is now a spokeswoman for Slim Fast's "Find your Slim" campaign. The commercials say that they want "hips, not hipbones." However, those hips still must be thin- or else you'd have no reason to buy their product. It's still a marketing ploy, and a good one at that.

However, Ms. Hunter (I originally typed "Hunger" instead of "Hunter"- perhaps my fingers are trying to tell me something?) says that Slim Fast can -- get this -- help women's body image.

No seriously. In her words:

Supermodel Rachel Hunter is trying to change the way people think when they
see those ultra-slim, ultra-fit figures.

Hunter has teamed up with the Slim-Fast diet-aid company to put the brakes on body-image issues. It's a problem faced not only by the general public, but also by her modeling colleagues.

"The fashion industry is the fashion industry - you are going to find some very slim girls in it," said Hunter, who has been promoting positive body images through Slim-Fast's "Find Your Slim" campaign.

"I don't pay a lot of attention to it anymore," she said. "I maintained a healthy approach. I found out what my comfortable weight was. I don't get influenced by what others say. It's more about how I feel and about being healthy. I enjoy eating."


It's brilliant, in a way. They're getting you from both ends: the we-don't-promote-anorexic-models end, and the using-our-product-will-help-you-get-thin-and-feel-better-about-yourself-end.

Not that the concept of a diet product being used to make you feel better about yourself is anything new. Because Slim Fast isn't selling shakes: they're selling happiness in a can. And therein lies the danger. My eating disorder really took off when I was in a period of dark depression and self-hatred during college. I thought that losing a couple pounds would make me happy. It would make me like myself.

This, of course didn't really work. At least not for more than a day. I'd lose the weight, be happy for a day or so, and then go back to feeling crappy. The solution? I just hadn't lost enough weight! So I kept going. The act of losing weight, of starving myself, of exercising like a maniac, kind of momentarily anesthetized my feelings of anxiety and self-hatred.

Which is exactly what Slim Fast is trying to do.

They're speaking out of both sides of their mouth. "We celebrate women's bodies!" they say. "If you lose weight, you will love your body!" But if they were really celebrating women's bodies, they wouldn't be peddling a diet product.

Love- self love, love from another person- never came from a product. And it never will.

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Jeanne said...

"Love- self love, love from another person- never came from a product. And it never will."


Great post, carrie!

Thinking of you,

carrie said...

Thanks Jeanne.

Sorry I haven't been around other blogs that much- I'm barely keeping my head above water with all I have to do, and something had to give.


Vickyann said...

Are diet products trying to keep up with trends again? we're seeing a well overdue backlash against dieting and I agree their speaking 'from both sides of their mouth' It can be confusing and dangerous for a teenager learning to feel comfortable with themselves.

Thanks for posting this,

Vicky XXXX

Lala said...

Have you read "Unbearable Weight" by Susan Bordo? If you haven't, its fascinating! (Not a self-help book btw)

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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