Tag Archives: food

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



How Much Power Do We Actually Have?

Watching Jean Kilbourne’s film “Killing Me Softly 4,” I thought about questions that come up when thinking about who’s responsible for the proliferation of harmful products and messages we receive in advertisements: is it the corporations for creating and promoting these ads and products, or the people who buy products from the companies who create these harmful messages? While this is an important and interesting question, I decided to reflect more specifically on: How much power do we as consumers have in stopping harmful advertising or practices when not all of us have the economic luxury to do so?

According to Hesse-Biber, “The National Cancer Institute funded a $1 million ’5-a-day’ campaign to encourage people to eat their daily allotment of fruits and vegetables, but must compete for consumer appetites against a $500 million McDonald’s campaign” (67). In many low-income neighborhoods there are “food deserts” where markets with affordable produce are either non-existent or barely any are within an easily-accessible distance. Despite residents in low-income neighborhoods not having easy and affordable access to fresh produce, cheap fast food places such as McDonald’s are installed in many of these neighborhoods.

For people who may not have the economic means to stand up to industries that promote harmful products or messaging: is there a way that they too can make an impact on these companies?

Works Cited:
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

Lululemon: Everything in Moderation?

“brahmacharya: (moderation, non-excess) This yama, or yogic philosophy, teaches us to recognize that moment of “just enough” so we don’t move past it into uncomfortable excess. Maybe it’s by pushing away the plate of french fries or using our pent-up energy for a run. By focusing inward, we keep our bodies healthy and energetic. (And hey, there are some things we’re better off avoiding altogether.) Where in your life could you practice moderation?”

I read this quote on the side of a bag from the popular store lululemon athletica, a women’s and men’s athletic clothing store targeted toward fit, stylish young adults willing to spend relatively high amounts of money on clothing that will supposedly lift and sculpt their bodies. Lululemon markets itself as being focused on health, fitness, and bettering both the mind and body, but is this really just a marketing technique that feeds on the pressure facing young 20-somethings to be physically fit and attractive?

It is somewhat ironic that this quote presses “everything in moderation” when the clothing being sold is so expensive (for example, $82-$98 for a pair of yoga pants). In my opinion, this is a product of the culture we live in – everyone has to have whatever will make them the “best” version of themselves, and if they are not striving to achieve this (i.e., spending money) they are made to feel guilty by the media, similar to what Jean Kilbourne said in “Killing Us Softly 4” about the guilt associated with eating and not exercising – with being what society deems “lazy.” The quote on the bag is condescending, insinuating that the reader doesn’t really need those french fries, now do they? Thus making consumers feel guilty. The marketing is genius, really; “We (the brand) know you (the consumer) are ashamed of your body and embarrassed of any ‘weak’ moments you’ve had. Luckily, we have an entire store full of clothes that can help you look and feel better about yourself.”

Do you agree that stores like lululemon use the pressure on both women and men to be fit as a way of selling overpriced clothes, adding to the obsession with physical attractiveness? Or are they really a brand focused on promoting healthy lifestyles?