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 and follow her on Twitter @GrrrlWithBoys.