Friday, May 10, 2013

A Social Commentary on Body Shaming, Arm Fat, and Why You Should Hate Weight Watchers

I know that usually whenever you stumble upon my little blog on facebook or twitter you’re used to reading something wordy and witty about how much I hate Kristin Stewart, Twilight, or other forms of teenage angst and society deprivation.  Today, however, my inner-sociology minor is coming into play and forcing me to address a few social issues which have been driving me absolutely crazy.  Don’t exit out and go back to playing Farmville or whatever just yet though, I promise that if you stick with it I’ll find some way to make fun of Miss Stewart somewhere in the following paragraphs.

I recently was watching my nightly episode of Friends while staying up late writing a paper when I stumbled upon this Weight Watchers commercial featuring Ana Gasteyer singing a clever play on the classic “Fever” substituting negative statements about “arm jiggle” for the traditional message of passionate love.  Now, I will probably never agree with anyone trying to redo a Miss Peggy Lee song because…well…she’s just the most fabulous person ever…but what absolutely infuriated me about this commercial was the blatant body-shaming which is becoming more and more of a reoccurring theme in the media.

Body Shaming- Public discrimination on a body type or aspect of a body type because it deviates from the social ideal.

Now, I would like to first point out that EVERYONE has arm flab when they “clap” or “hail a cab.”  Unless you are a body builder or very devout anorexic YOU WILL HAVE SOME FAT ON YOUR ARMS.  And considering that Weight Watchers isn’t a structured lifting program, it will not take away all your arm fat, so this is false advertising. 

Therefore, this advertisement demonstrates an incredible amount of body shaming through its demeaning association of arm fat with being too unappealing to wear anything sleeveless.  This is a marketing attempt used to make women feel unattractive and inferior, making them more likely to purchase their products.  This kind of advertising introduces to young girls the “thin ideal” of society.  I can guarantee that my five year old sister would have no negative thoughts about a little bit of arm jiggle on a beautiful woman until such media exposure informs her that arm jiggle is a PROBLEM; that is WRONG and NEEDS TO BE FIXED.

Thin ideal- The socially derived, unattainable standard of beauty used to shame people into buying products.

While there are studies showing that there is some connection to chronic eating disorders with biological issues such as serotonin levels, most women and girls will be exposed to the concept of self-hatred and body shame through the media and indirectly through the media by means of other women/girls.  A young girl usually has standards of beauty connected with a person’s character and relationship to them…for instance, most children, early in life, hold their mother up as their standard of beauty. 

Then enters the media.

Weight loss companies like Weight Watchers and Special K let us know that we should be embarrassed by arm fat and thicker thighs.  Mega T Green Tea informs us that muffin top “isn’t hot.”  We are TAUGHT that these are things that are WRONG with us.  They tell us that we shouldn’t wear a swimsuit until we look like the model on TV.  And if by some miracle we aren’t taught by the media, then other girls are quick to inform us where we are wrong.

I researched the arm-flabbless Ana Gasteyer to find that she has NEVER BEEN ABOVE AVERAGE WEIGHT.  Yet Weight Watchers chose this perfectly healthy woman to represent to us someone who needs to be changed because her smaller-than-average arms were too disgusting to be seen in public.  In her testimonial on the Weight Watchers website, she says “my husband and I came back from our summer vacation, super sad and fat.”

She was not fat, first of all, and certainly did not need to be sad because she was fat by the media’s unattainable standards.

Weight Watchers is telling us that “fat” women should be sad.

To wrap this all up, because I’m sure that you’re sick and tired of my feministic rant, I will refuse to endorse or support products by companies such as Weight Watchers who use body shaming to sell their debatably effective goods and services.  Wanting women to be healthy is one thing.  Wanting women to be ashamed of their bodies because they can’t measure up to the perfectly airbrushed celebrities and their media-constructed standard of beauty just so you can sell your product is DISGUSTING and the reason that 10% of young girls starve themselves. 

“Too fat,” “too skinny,” “no boobs,” “love handles,” “thunder thighs,” “chicken legs,” “cankles,” "child-bearing hips…” These are all socially derived by the media to make us feel unattractive, vulnerable, and willing to buy stupid products so we can be “beautiful.”

No matter how you’re built, you’re beautiful…so wear those sleeveless shirts with pride just to spite Weight Watchers and their sick sense of compromised morality.

Also (the moment you’ve all been waiting for): Kristin Stewart is so emotionless that a vacuum cleaner literally would have accomplished a more persuasive version of Bella Swan.

There. You’re welcome.

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