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Snack Shaming: Why Don't Advertisers Want Women to Eat?

Welcome to the world of Almond Joyless (as told in Gifs)
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As someone who has worked in advertising for many years, I like to think that I have a keen eye for bullshit.  But even I was caught off guard by something I noticed recently, and even more surprised when I realized how pervasive it really was.

It's a subtle thing, and easy to miss.  So I made some gifs for you to examine more closely. Let's start with this one.

 

*Bonus points for phallic imagery*

You see it? A small, furtive glance to make sure no one sees me... BECAUSE I SHOULD NOT BE EATING.

That's really the message, isn't it? That we should feel bad about eating? Maybe I'm missing something, but that seems like a weird position to take when you're selling food.

Of course, there is a long standing tradition in our culture of painting women like crack-whores for chocolate, so maybe this is just playing into that witless stereotype. All that's missing is a shot of her looking wistfully into a shoe store window while clutching a tampon.

 

But even if you chalk it up to a tired gag that's already been strip-mined by Kathy Guisewhite (ACK!), you still have to explain this.

She's drinking milk. Lactose-free milk, in fact, so she's not even going to fart. What the hell is she so afraid of? And check that weird little move where she readjusts herself and hunkers down so she can really get her Lactaid on!

 

And finally, there's this:

This woman is eating a granola bar.  And she's at the gym for god's sake, not sitting in a parked car, eating ice cream with her car keys. But she still has to be aware of watchful eyes, because strong women should not eat. Or at least, they should not be eating anything they enjoy.

It's a strange throwback to a time when women believed that eating wasn’t feminine; when mothers told their daughters to have dinner before a date, so they didn’t eat much in front of a man.  And in this age of hyper awareness about "shaming," it seems inconceivable that this message would keep getting through focus groups, and continue to reinforce the idea that food is for men.

More gifs for your perusal 

 

Tags: Media Watch
April Winchell has been a talk radio host, a sitcom writer, an advertising executive and the voice of hundreds of animated Disney characters. She also created the hit website Regretsy.com in 2009, which led to the Random House publication of "Regretsy: Where DIY meets WTF" in 2010. Even though she has been writing professionally since 1989, she still finds talking about herself in the third person really uncomfortable.
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