I was lying around watching “The Fugitive” when a Nutrisystem commercial starring former Pittsburgh Steeler QB and NFL Hall Of Famer Terry Bradshaw came on the tube. For those who don’t know, Nutrisystem is a weight loss/weight management program. You buy their food and follow their diet plan, and you are guaranteed to lose weight. All well and good. What I did not like was their pitch. To be clear, I don’t blame Terry Bradshaw. He didn’t not write the copy. The specific part that copy my attention was when Terry said something to the effect of:
“I was tired of looking old, fat, and ugly.” (see video below)
Reasonable people can debate Terry’s own evaluation of his looks and the “joke value” of the line. The problem is that the was not speaking at a social gathering telling football war stories or by the water cooler talking to his buds at the network. The words had an agenda. Terry’s words may have been in the first person but the sales message was clear. The intent was for the viewer to make a mental connection between being fat and being ugly. The real message:
If YOU are overweight, YOU are also ugly. Use our product and YOU will be healthy, thin and attractive.
I am not talking about being politically correct. Believe it or not, I have a sense of humor. I however, am also intimately aware of the power of words. Fat and ugly where thrown at me numerous times during my childhood and teens. The gift of words to me was a lifetime battling Body Dysmorphic Disorder. The claim that because someone is overweight, they are also ugly/ unattractive is a terrible and harmful stereotype to promote.
I am talking about Nutrisystem, in the same vein of promoting healthy weight loss, also playing to unhealthy, false body image stereotypes. It is undisputed that these stereotypes play a role in unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders. “I am fat so I therefore am also ugly” The only way to be attractive is to lose weight. I must binge, I must starve, I must purge. Seem ironic?
Shame on Nutrisystem. They are speaking out of both sides of their “mouth” talking about a healthy lifestyle yet at the same type perpetuating false body-image stereotypes to sell their product.