“Shed Your Weight Problem Here”

One of my friends recently “tagged” me in a Facebook post – “I know you’ll LOVE this one,” she wrote. It was a picture of something that looked like a store window display – a pile of women’s magazines (and a few men’s) in front of bright pink backdrop with the phrase “Shed Your Weight Problem Here.”

She’s right, of course. I do love it. But what I find even more fascinating are the Facebook comments this photo sparked and the high level emotional energy running in every direction.

The very first comment was “bullshit, obesity is a problem – eliminate meat and dairy – this is how you loose weight.” Really?? Spelling errors aside, what prompted this person to jump from “weight problem” to “obesity?” How is this campaign in any way related to the problem that is or isn’t obesity? And I can’t support the argument that eliminating meat and dairy is the way to lose weight, despite the emphatic nature of her statement.

The next poor soul didn’t “get it.” Bless her!

There were a couple of comments about the comparison game. One person stated, “the only weight problem is the pictures you’re compared to” while another suggested that if “people just stopped with the pathetic comparison game they wouldn’t have to blame the magazines.”

And once again, the obesity issue surfaced. “Real obesity are the middle America folks who eat nothing but GMOs and need a powered wheelchair because they can’t lift their own weight. Not women who have poor self image because of the unrealistic garbage fed to us by the media constantly. I’m so happy to see this, as a guy I’m so tired of hearing my perfectly healthy girlfriend say ‘I’m fat’ damn it media, stop making women think they aren’t good enough!”

Again, with this being a Facebook comment, I’ve got to let the spelling and grammar slide a bit. But let’s take another look at what this person really said. He gave his definition of obesity, which didn’t include his girlfriend, and blamed the media for making women think they aren’t good enough.

Someone finally shared, “A ‘weight problem’ doesn’t necessarily equal overweight.” And she continued on with more about the comparison game women play with the “starving models.” (I would add the word “airbrushed.”)

And to wrap up the comments, someone wrote “I think whether you agree with the message or not, this is a brilliant idea for a campaign.”

And to that I say, “Amen!” The marketers did exactly what they needed to do – get attention. And regardless of how you personally interpret the message and meaning of the campaign, the Facebook comments it generated clearly illustrate the chaos and dysfunction we, as a culture, have on the issue.

So how do we get functional – and dare I suggest happy? We reclaim our power. We recognize that marketers aren’t out to hurt us or make us crazy. In the course of doing their work well, we see that they are also victims of the “calories in/calories out” consciousness. We also understand that there isn’t a single photograph published that isn’t retouched, and even the cover model couldn’t hold a candle to her Photoshopped equivalent.

And we recognize that all of this is irrelevant anyway. The answers we seek aren’t in some beauty magazine. The answers lie within our own hearts and bodies.

In a way, that window display – as clever as it is – still contributes to the greater problem. It’s still part of “the Matrix.” It’s trying to get attention by bringing attention to a problem that doesn’t really need to exist in the first place. And when we can understand that, we have found the freedom, peace and happiness we were really seeking.