New Body, New Soul

This commercial for the new 2014 Kia Soul premiered in August during MTV’s Video Music Awards. The commercial revolves around the intense workouts and eventual weight loss of the face of Kia, the Kia Hamsters. Even in the youtube description, the “formerly frumpy Kia Hamsters” are described ditching their “furry folds” and transforming into “lean, mean, head-turning machines.” Kia is trying to say that fat is frumpy, doesn’t sell, and doesn’t get any attention. Luckily, the answer to better sales isn’t hard to find, and in fact lies within images of thinner hamsters, because thin is attractive.

From what I’ve gathered from this campaign, fat-shaming sells products, and Kia is cashing in on the trend. It’s a shame to see this kind of negative media still circulating, objectifying and condemning the dreaded curse that is fat. Marilyn Wann says that if you think “thin is inherently beautiful and fat is obviously ugly,” you’re adding on to the social stigma of fat. Needless to say, Kia is not doing fat studies work.

Wann, Marilyn. Foreword, “Fat Studies: An Invitation to Revolution.” The Fat Studies Reader. New York University Press. New York.

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One thought on “New Body, New Soul

  1. jessmcphillips

    I happen to love the hamster Kia commercials (almost as much as the Fillet-O-Fish commercial), mostly because of how funny I found them to be; who uses hamsters to sell cars? All the hamster commercials leading to this one I found entertaining-interesting spokes animal choice, fun music. Needless to say, when I saw this, I was really disappointed. The commercial made it seem like the hamsters needed to have a well-muscled, tight body in order to be more attractive, therefore making the Kia cars more attractive to buyers. Susan Bordo says that “the firm, developed body has become a symbol of correct ‘attitude’…suggesting…the ability to ‘shape your life’.” The Kia commercial uses this current cultural mindset to sell their cars- they are saying “if you buy one of our cars, you will be a well put-together and handsome individual.”

    When I first saw the ending to this commercial, I was a little creeped out. Hamsters are not supposed to look like that! They are supposed to be soft and chubby because that’s how their body is built. I think with that idea in mind, this commercial also sells the idea that it’s not okay to be happy with the body you have, that you have to make yourself as taught and toned as possible to truly succeed in life (along with buying a Kia car, which will help you achieve that goal). While exercise is necessary for the body, the goal of exercise should not have to be about physical appearance, but about health. This latest installment of Kia hamster ads was a letdown; it’s a shame to see what was once a pretty interesting way to sell cars turn to fat-shaming just to sell a product.

    Bordo, Susan. “Reading the Slender Body.” Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California, 1993. N. pag. Print.

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