The common factor that Susan Bordo makes evident in her case study in Hunger as Ideology is the suppression of women and their choices. The advertisement focuses on knowing what women want to do but offering the option of what women should do. And the things that women should do are all learned from either past generations or portrayed in the media. I mean, why would women subject themselves to eat as little as possible for the glorification of the appearance of their body if the media did not shove the idea that “thin is beautiful” down their throats?
A recent example I remembered was a commercial for Yoplait. She wife is talking to her friend about all of the sweets she has been eating while her husband, who is eavesdropping, desperately looks through the fridge to see if there are any leftover desserts. By the end of the commercial, it is apparent that the desserts she was referring to are actually Yoplait’s dessert flavors so women can satisfy their sweet tooth without having to pay the price of gaining weight. The advertisement encourages dieting, as long as it is with them. Yoplait also sends the strong message that with their product, women are able to be in control of their weight without having to starve themselves. Just another example of how “the popular media have targeted as characteristic dilemmas of the ‘contemporary woman,’ who is beset by conflicting role demands and pressures on her time” (105).
Bordo also brings a very interesting point, which is that during the mid-19th century, “voluptuous female nudes” (102) were adorned, and Lillian Russell was admired by both men and women because she had a “hearty appetite” as well as an “ample body” (102) whereas our culture praises the minority bodies of so-skinny-you-can-see-her-rib-cage. As Professor Retzinger mentioned, big bodies symbolized wealth, privilege, and status. Now reading through the case study, the comparisons food is made to in order to cater to women, such as sex, love, and morals is such a ridiculous idea until you realize that they still exist everywhere in today’s commercials and advertisements. They are so prominent in today’s culture, it makes me wonder: What positive change and impact have we made?
Our cultures’ media message may not have all shifted dramatically; however, it is relieving to know that there are some companies who encourage natural beauty as well as the bodies of all shapes and sizes. For instance, Seventeen Magazine launched a beauty campaign called Seventeen’s Body Peace Project. The campaign gets readers to sign the pledge of various vows such as: “Appreciate what makes my body different from anyone else’s,” “remind myself that what you see isn’t always what you get on TV and in ads,” and “accept that beauty isn’t just about my looks. It’s my awesome personality and my energy that creates a whole, unique package.” It may or may not sound a bit corny, but I think what is important is that there are well known and powerful companies, like Seventeen Magazine, that are encouraging the celebration of all body types. They also have female celebrities sign the petition to inspire others. As Jean Kilbourne mentions in Slim Hopes, we need more positive messages from the media as well as more critical thinkers and media literacy going around our society.
If you would like to sign the petition à http://www.seventeen.com/health/tips/body-peace-pledge