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Special K misses the mark… again

Date: December 17, 2013 | Posted By: Gretchen

Recently Special K launched a new marketing campaign to “Shhhhut Down Fat Talk” that’s a “barrier to managing (women’s) weight”. While creating a discussion around stopping fat talk and using their access to a great number of people is a great idea, they totally missed the mark in the follow through.

Clothing label that reads, "I look fat in this."

One of the labels in the staged clothing store.

Their goal is still to sell us weight loss products. What they’ve done with this campaign is co-opt women’s empowerment and used it to make money off our insecurities.

Fat talk is definitely an issue for women. We’re constantly told by the media and reminded by our family and peers, that our bodies are not good enough.

We see an average of 3,000 ads per day and the majority of those aimed at women are about fixing our appearance.

So, it’s not a surprise that so many women have terrible self-esteem and negative body image. It’s all we’re told to think about. (We’re also told to find ourselves a man, but I digress.)

I like the idea they had of taking the fat talk we aim at ourselves and displaying it on signs around a clothing store. I like the reactions that these women had. That was all very realistic.

I think that if we remind women, as they did, that, we would never say such things to our friends so why in the world would we say that to ourselves, then that might turn on a light bulb for many women.

Drawing of women talking negatively about themselves.

No more self-bullying!

We all do it. I have a pretty damn good body image that I’ve been working on for a long time and I still catch myself starting to think such things as, “If I could just get rid of this (insert imperfect part here)”.

Luckily, I have learned to quickly recognize that negative self-talk and nip it in the bud. But it took years of practice and self-reflection just to get to this point. I had to unlearn all the negative things marketers had told me about my body.

So, instead of taking this much needed conversation in a direction that still shames women in to losing weight, maybe what Special K should do is to direct women to eat their products because it provides much needed nutrients (if it even does, I have no idea) for be being healthy.

It is possible to be healthy at a variety of different sizes. Just because someone fits neatly into the BMI scale does not mean they are healthy.

Otherwise, this is just a repeat of their 2011 campaign “What Will You Gain When You Lose?” asking women to identify how great their life would be if they just lost weight.

I’ll tell you what women and girls would gain if we could lose some of this negative advertising — their self-esteem, wasted time and money, and confidence.

Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer is a curvy grrrl from Virginia with a Master’s degree in Humanities and Women’s Studies. You can find her musings about raising two boys in this crazy world at www.grrrlwithboys.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter @GrrrlWithBoys.




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8 Responses to Special K misses the mark… again

  1. Jackie on 12-25-2013

    Many sites that encourage body positivity have noticed it seems Special K hires professional internet trolls to steal ideas from people advocating body acceptance. They're doing more than co-opting women's messages of empowerment, they're stealing ideas from people against dieting, and using them in their ads to pretend they're promoting health.

    Special K are beyond pathetic, they're stealing ideas from activists and using them to undermine their goals, just like someone who sees a body positive site, and takes a screenshot from it to humiliate and dehumanize fat people.

    I don't know what can be done, but I'm tired of what amounts to the type of bullying and intimidation people involved in diets use against fat people. They pretend to understand only to turn around and say they're "concerned" about your health. Twisting everything you say into some sort of admission you really do know you're unhealthy because you're fat. Special K should no longer be able to use communities that sponsor body acceptance to sell diet products. They just come across as bullies.
  2. Reply
    • Gretchen on 12-27-2013

      Do they really hire professional internet trolls? That is disgusting! Makes sense though, how else would they know what body positive activists are doing. It seems they have no limits when trying to protect their bottom line.
    • Reply
      • Jackie on 01-05-2014

        Yeah, I don't know anyone who works at Special K, but it seems they've got some people trolling the net for "inspiration" for their ads.
      • Reply
  3. Hashtag Feminism | This New Year #IResolveToGain Rather Than Lose #F on 12-31-2013

    […] (a total rip off of feminist artist Marilyn Wann’s “Yay Scale”), or their latest “Shut Down Fat Talk” campaign (another co-optation of feminism), or Weight Watcher’s ads featuring Jennifer Hudson […]
  4. Reply
  5. Kevin Geary on 01-10-2014

    "So, instead of taking this much needed conversation in a direction that still shames women in to losing weight, maybe what Special K should do is to direct women to eat their products because it provides much needed nutrients (if it even does, I have no idea) for be being healthy."

    Here's where you found the friction point. Special K has no leg to stand on. Their cereal is sugar gluten pressed into little flakes with synthetic vitamins that the body doesn't want. Special K is what disorders people's hormones and makes them less likely to reach whatever goals they have.

    So with that, Special K has to focus on other areas. They've already beat the "it's healthy for you" drum to death. It's NOT healthy for you. Maybe people are figuring that out and they're trying to branch out.
  6. Reply
    • Gretchen on 01-11-2014

      Thank you Kevin! I suspected that but thanks for clearing it up. I've never had their products and I certainly won't be trying it.
    • Reply
  7. #GirlsCan Accomplish Their Goals Without Makeup - Hashtag Feminism on 03-17-2014

    […] Remember those Special K commercials that showed women stepping on to a scale that told them they were “awesome” instead of telling them how much they weighed? That was totally ripped off of a feminist artist who made “Yay Scales”. More on that here. That wasn’t all Special K has done to co-opt women’s empowerment rhetoric around healthy body image to sell their weight loss products. Here’s yet another example. […]
  8. Reply
  9. Executive Travel Aldbury on 10-08-2014

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  10. Reply