There’s a lot of advertising out there that walks a fine line between providing “aspirational” messages for women and completely crushing our self-esteem: That’s not news to anyone who’s watched television, driven down a street with billboards, or cracked open a magazine (or even just caught a glimpse at its covers) in recent years. But according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), Yoplait crossed the line with an ad that suggests women could lose weight by trading dessert for their low-fat yogurts, which they say could act as a trigger for women with eating disorders.
Yoplait agreed to pull the ad after NEDA’s compalints, but the ad, below, is actually pretty uncomfortable to watch, even if you’re not suffering an eating disorder. Jaunty music accompanies a rapid-fire voice-over, expressing a woman’s agony over whether to eat a slice of raspberry cheesecake at work:
Whether or not you’ve ever been anorexic, bulimic, or a compulsive eater, I’d say that most women have experienced some version of this inner dialogue before, and it’s not fun. Even if you’re agonizing over food choices for reasons other than body image (maybe your blood sugar levels are on the fritz, your doctor told you to watch your cholesterol, or you know you’ll have a seriously uncomfortable reaction to all that lactose later in the day), it’s not fun. And while plenty of advertising might trigger body image problems, rarely does it go for the jugular like Yoplait’s.
While The Frisky’s Claire Zulkey doesn’t “want to get into that” (stuff about whether the commercial triggers eating disorders) she takes issue with the commercial for a different reason: Light yogurt is not dessert. She makes the point that we should all get over the notion of “deserving” any kind of food (so long as it’s not inedible, or as she puts it, “smeared in fecal matter”), but we should be nailing Yoplait for false advertising:
…it’s about time Yoplait is being brought to the floor for another reason: their commercials give the impression that dessert flavored yogurt is as good as dessert, and that is simply not true.
She makes a fair point. Those 100-calorie cups of decadent dessert-flavored dairy aren’t really that satisfying when what you really want is the decadent dessert. (And I’d also argue that all those sugar-free, fat-free, replace-all-your-favorite-ingredients-with-chemicals versions of your favorite desserts aren’t all that healthy, either, by the way.) That’s the real reason I don’t bother buying Yoplait.
Do you think the commercial is an eating disorder trigger? Is it offensive to women? False advertising? Tell us what you think of the Yoplait controversy in the comments section, below: