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Yoplait stirs up eating disordered thoughts in pulled ad

By June 17, 2011 9 Comments
A woman has a moral/ethical/weight dilemma in Yoplait

A woman has a moral/ethical/weight dilemma in Yoplait's recently revoked ad.

“Ohhh. Cheesecake.”

So begins a gross and disturbing peek into the female psyche, as imagined by the people of Yoplait.

“Okay. What if I just had a small slice? I was good today, I deserve it! Or, I could have a medium slice and some celery sticks and they would cancel each other out, right? Or…okay, I could have one large slice, and jog in place as I eat it…”

Hardy har har, get it? Women are crazy! Crazy, calorie-counting, food fetishists, riddled with anxiety and guilt! It’s funny ’cause it’s true!

Yeah, no.

Not only does this ad shame women for being such silly gluttons (even the ad’s would-be chaste dieter exclaims, “Mmm, raspberry cheesecake. I’ve been thinking about this all day!”), but it stirs up a slew of eating disorder triggers.

Lynn Grefe, president of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says, “[For those with eating disorders], opening a refrigerator is like walking off a bridge. And to see this behavior in a commercial tells people with eating disorders, see, it’s even on TV. It’s okay and normal for my head to go through all these mental exercises.”

Brilliant author Jenni Schaefer (Life Without Ed is an eating disorder recovery staple — if you haven’t read it, do so immediately), asserts,  “It often starts with that voice in your head saying ‘Eat this but not that. The commercial just reinforced that voice. It made that inner dialogue look normal, It let you think, ‘I’m OK, I do the same thing.’ But that’s not normal. You don’t have to open that refrigerator and hear that voice.”

To their credit, Yoplait pulled the ad after NEDA voiced concern, and Tom Forsythe, VP of Corporate Communications for General Mills said, “We had no idea. The thought had never occurred to anyone, and no one raised the point. We aren’t sure that everyone saw the ad that way, but if anyone did, that was not our intent and is cause for concern. We thought it best to take it down.”

Good thinking.

–Michelle Konstantinovsky is a student at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and an avid admirer of shiny objects and preteen entertainment. It would be nice if you visited her website: www.michellekmedia.com. Also, she may learn to use Twitter more effectively if you follow her @michelley415.