|Pinch *this*, Special K!|
I was trying to find the old Pinch an Inch commercial online, and ran across this post about a Special K billboard ad.
For years, Special K has focused their ads on making ordinary, healthy women believe that if they're not frighteningly skinny, then the only answer is to spend all day eating Special K products. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are to be SK cereals, shakes or snack bars. It's an excellent marketing strategy, but a poor health strategy. The third ingredient in Special K's original cereal is sugar. The fifth and six are salt and high fructose corn syrup (which is also sugar). I couldn't even bear to check the other variations, like Chocolate Delight. The Milk Chocolate Protein Shake contains sugar (third ingredient), as well as four other forms of sugar AND "nutritive sweeteners and non-nutritive sweeteners". The shake also contains soy protein isolate, which was approved in the late 70's as a binder and sealer for cardboard boxes, but has never been approved for human consumption. Somehow, through the magic of FDA loopholes, SPI has made its way into our food supply anyway. Special K is far from the only place you'll find it.
So we can be skinny if we load up on sugar and questionable chemicals? Special K has done women a huge disservice. I know that nothing has stuck with me like those ads from my childhood. I never became anorexic or even dieted, but that slogan was always in the back of my mind. I've always scoffed at all the articles and news stories that blamed the fashion and movie industry for making skinny look healthy and throwing young girls into dieting frenzies, because I believe that people are responsible for themselves and their own decisions. And Barbie dolls. Please. What five-year-old cares if she looks like Barbie? I still don't think Barbie is the devil-doll's spawn, but when you step back and look at all the messages we get from every side, it is rather overwhelming.
What can we do? As in everything else, it comes back to the money. As long as consumers are buying enough Special K (or SlimFast or fill-in-the-blank-weight-loss-product) to keep them in business, companies will continue to produce the products. And advertise to sell them. Because the ads are working. But, the truth is all around us if we'll just pay attention. All the yo-yo and fad diets don't make us healthy, and usually cause more problems than they solve. (If they work at all.) It all comes back to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and eating real food. Being skinny isn't the ultimate goal. Being healthy is. Overweight people who exercise are healthier than sedentary skinny people. So forget the sugary cereal, eat something truly healthy, quit watching those stupid TV ads and go exercise.