Today’s ‘Belittling’ Marketing… let’s hope it’s the outrage of tomorrow

Seems like an odd title for a blog I know, but bear with me whilst I get to the point here… it is going to take a bit of background pre-amble. Firstly, did you know that we used to promote sugar as an energy-boosting health food?    My, we have learned a bit about that! Well, I believe, in a similar way, we will look back at how we promote ‘health‘ today in 30-40 years’ time and wonder what the heck we were thinking…

You see, recently I dove back into the world of ‘mainstream exercise’ at a local gym. For the last 2 and a half years, I’ve been largely walking and running on my own (or with a pram and my fur child), doing some pilates at a small local studio, and doing bits of lightweight exercises at home. A friend of mine asked me to come along and work out with her and I decided ‘why not?’ Let’s mix things up a bit!

Enough about the actual exercise… let’s talk about the environment because that’s what this post is about. I must have missed it in the past (or maybe I am more attuned to this stuff now) but I was horrified by the messaging taking up most of the wall space in each room of this gym. Sadly, the worst offenders were in the ladies’ bathroom. The messaging came in a variety of forms…

  • Some posters show scantily clad bodies about as real as Barbie dolls, promoting shakes and other strange concoctions
  • Other posters vilified carbohydrates for certain times of the day; these posters even banned beetroot! And pumpkin! The foodie in me shuddered when I imagined life without these (and why? They are nutrient-packed vegetables!)
  • There were other posters of scales, tape measures, small waists, and a lot of plates with chicken and broccoli

You get the picture. All of this is thrown in people’s faces whilst a young, fit personal trainer or gym instructor yells out the number of calories they are burning. And sadly, you don’t have to walk into a gym to see this. You could just… walk into a newsagent and saunter down the magazine aisle. Or look up at a billboard at a major intersection in any city. Or turn on the TV for no more than 3 minutes during an ad break.

But this kind of messaging is NOT helping the health of the general population. Not the physical health and certainly not the mental health. No wonder people are confused about basic healthy eating and completely absorbed in changing every aspect of their bodies.

I wish we could run a little experiment….

  • Be gone with all of the imagery of unattainable, tiny-waisted Barbie-like bodies
  • Be gone with confusing, restrictive, and calorie-focused nutrition advice
  • More posters of gorgeous, plump strawberries, roasted beets and potatoes, gorgeous fruits, and how about some cheese… glorious cheese.
  • Supermarkets where processed foods are confined to the same space currently reserved for fresh produce and farmer fresh fruit and vegetables fulfill the rest.
  • Glorification of a wide range of healthy bodies and little reminders about how awesome each and every one of us truly is…. I mean, honestly, imagine it! Walking out of your local gym thinking ‘I’m so great and I feel so fab today’ instead of ‘better skip breakfast / should have done another 5 minutes to burn another 50 cals / should swap to skim milk / actually, might just give up dairy/reminder not to eat cabs between 2 pm and 8 pm EVER.

Next time you see any sort of message that makes you feel ‘less than’ just remind yourself internally that you are pretty swell on the inside and on the out.

In 30 or 40 years I genuinely think we will look back on this sort of derogatory marketing and wonder what in the heck we were thinking (just like we used to promote sugar as a healthy food….) but I do hope it happens much sooner than that.

My world sounds good in the meantime. Want to come to join my commune?

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