I just read this great piece over at No Cheese, Please about the trend of marketing departments to capitalize not only on the huge levels of guilt-ridden discontent we are socialized into accepting into our daily lives but also to seize upon the insecurities taught and instilled into women throughout their lives regarding their (our) lack of self-control. To quote the author of the post:
This circular’s cover [for Bed Bath & Beyond] reminds me of magazines like Woman’s Day: a picture of a beautiful cake on the front, with the headline, “LOSE 23 POUNDS WITH POWER WALKING!” Translation: make a cake for your family while you eat celery and work out every day. It’s sickening how often women around food is correlated with some kind of lack of control.
I wanted to highlight not only this thought-provoking post but also I want to elaborate on the point I emphasized in the quote above. How often have you ever idly glanced at the magazines waiting in a grocery store line and noticed this same thing? Any magazine geared towards women (which are what are found in grocery store Last Minute purchase display racks since of course only women do food shopping, natch) seems to LOVE to find new and fun ways to display amazingly decadent looking desert images, while highlighting text to the effect of “Lose weight now!” This juxtaposition of indulgent foods with dieting messages is trying to make, I think, two pulls upon the women for which they are artfully crafted.
1. You are meant to look at this beautifully colored and laid out display of “naughty” foods and immediate imagine yourself making and or at least eating it. By adding the large font text pertaining to diets just next to this “naughty” desire provoking image you are then immediately supposed to feel the guilt and shame of even mentally giving in to your wild female impulses, for your lack of self-control, and are drawn to the snake-oil salesman pitch for the latest and greatest food-restriction tips.
2. By placing a luscious food item in full color right next to a tip for dieting, you also get the simultaneous (and confusing) impression that whatever hew “diet tips” or “weight loss magic secrets” are shared within the glossy pages of the magazine will somehow allow you to EAT the pictured item. Sorry honey, but the misleading message is not to be believed, despite the mixed signals it gives to your brain, believe your gut instincts which say that no matter WHAT those diet tips or tricks are going to be, no where in them will there be a mention of making and eating that delectable treat on the front cover.
I have always scoffed at such women’s mags with “Lose weight NOW!” poised above a lovely image of some fiddly to make but fantastic looking (and in our imaginations at least, wonderful smelling and tasting) chocolate desert. Even when in our hearts (and at the back at least of our minds too) we KNOW that the magazine cover is playing to our senses and triggering the advertisers desired results; even KNOWING that they are just using tricks of juxtaposition to guide our hand to purchasing the magazine; the urge is still there to give in to both the guilty desire for that tasty-looking desert recipe and the self-loathing inspired demand to read the diet tips in retribution for even THINKING about eating something “naughty” and once again being feminine and “losing control” over that battle against our body.
I’ve always felt (and feel more so now after my exposure to concepts here in FA and elsewhere regarding the tricky methods of marketing in general) that these sorts of covers which should have to have, even if only in small print, the same disclaimers that Weight Watchers and the like are forced to add to commercials which states explicitly to the viewer that: “No, our methods for forcing your body to change its size does not include allowing you to actually EAT anything seen on this delicious looking cover”.
At least that would be a bit more honesty in advertising than we’re used to seeing.