Cultural Pressures of Thinness and Disorderly Eating

The above video shows a mildly clothed thin woman on the beach eating a large sandwich. This video is from a Hardees television commercial that depicts Nina Agdalin in provocative poses in comparison to the sandwich. When I first viewed the commercial I noticed the way she devoured the food in a sexual manner. After viewing a second time I noticed how this commercial has the potential to promote disorderly eating. As Biber mentions “The media bombards us with images of every imaginable food…at the same time women are subjected to an onslaught of sources devoted to dieting and maintenance of a sleek and supple figures” (67).   Physical perfection is displayed in advertisements of thin women eating immense portions of food. Physical perfection is often associated with thinness but yet foods that are harmful to the heath and have the possibility to make people fat are promoted along side skinny women. The representation of a skinny woman eating unhealthy food is damaging to a society that polices body conformity. Many people try to control their body weight by not eating fast food in order to obtain a similar body to ones viewed in commercials such as Hardees. These kinds of advertisements promote disorderly eating in an environment that juxtaposes unhealthy eating habits with unattainable figures.

Source: The Cult of Thinness by Sharlene Nagy Hesse- Biber



1 thought on “Cultural Pressures of Thinness and Disorderly Eating

  1. zakyah2013

    Your juxtaposition of the impossibly thin woman against the incredibly fattening burger is proof that the work of writers like Hesse-Biber and Kilbourne remains relevant in our society. Dr. Thomas Wadden says, “We’re being fattened up by the food industry and slimmed down by the diet and exercise industry. That’s great for the capitalist system, but it’s not so great for the consumer” (Wadden qtd. in Hesse-Biber 67). Unfortunately, consumers are not provided this narrative when they make decisions about their bodies and their consumption of food. Instead, they believe that this lifestyle is attainable, which, as you write, is a recipe for eating disorders. Unfortunately, the hypocrisy of this commercial is not its only flaw. The editors highly objectify the actress in the video by only showing parts of her body at times. If this were a bathing suit ad, perhaps their use of sex would be more understandable.This ad presents the idea of food as a substitution for sex that Kilbourne criticizes in Killing Us Softly 4. Exactly what does slowly applying suntan lotion on one’s buttocks have to do with a fish sandwich? Hesse-Biber describes the obsession that the advertising industry portrays, and this is that obsession taken to its height. However, the most surprising part of this outrageous commercial is that this beauty can take that huge a bite of burger without getting any mayonnaise around her mouth. As always, “the flawlessness is impossible” (Kilbourne).

    Kilbourne, Jean, Sut Jhally, and David Rabinovitz. Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of
    Women. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation, 2010.

    Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The
    Cult of Thinness. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 67. Print.


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