Yoplait stirs up eating disordered thoughts in pulled 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.

9 thoughts on “Yoplait stirs up eating disordered thoughts in pulled ad

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  1. That is the problem right there…they didn’t even think about it! How on earth could that NOT have crossed their minds!!!! Very disturbing and it really makes me not want to ever purchase yoplait again. That is a complete lie when they say that never occurred to them and no one raised the point. I am so sick and tired of turning on the tv and seeing ads like this. VERY UPSETTING!!!!!!!!

  2. PULLED?
    As I was reading this, that very same commercial just happened to come on. (Weird, right?) Did the channel I’m watching just miss the memo?

  3. It may take a week or so to pull all the ads. I saw it last night and just shook my head. People don’t see or hear the messages because they’re so ingrained on women’s minds through the media portrayal of who we should be that everyone thinks it’s okay. Needless to say, it’s not.

  4. There are other commercials that do this, as well. One particularly disturbing one is the commercial about coffee-flavoured bites (I forge the company). I remember thinking that the woman looks absolutely tortured by the thought of food. Society teaches people how to behave – especially youth – these ads set the stage for eating disorders to develop.

  5. I, too, still see this ad on. Hopefully it will be fully pulled soon.

    As someone who has never struggled with an eating disorder, I never really thought of it in quite that light (as a trigger for those who do). However, it has always bothered me…because, like so many other commercials target towards women, it relates dieting to being “good”. If you’re dieting, then you are “good”, you are worthy, you have value. If you slip up in your diet, or simply enjoy having a piece of dessert every now and again, then you have sinned, you’ve undone your whole day, you are “bad”. It’s part of a whole mindset that once again reinforces the notion that a woman’s worth is gauged entirely by her weight and body shape/size. So this commercial is not only treacherous to those with eating disorders, but to women in general…as it reiterates to everyone the idea that your value as a human being is inversely proportional to your weight.

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