“Special K” – Creating Anorexics As We Speak?

Have you seen the “Special K” commercial featuring the beautiful, young brunette (see below)? My daughter pointed it out to me one day when we were watching T.V. together.

Fortunately, she was laughing about how stupid it was, but once I saw it, I wasn’t laughing at all. The gorgeous brunette is dressed and made up to look like a twenty-something who, despite her drop-dead good looks, is not at all happy with her appearance.

The commercial begins with her sitting at the breakfast table, miserable, and slumped over a bowl of cereal. The voice-over reports: “When you’re trying to lose weight, the more options you have, the more likely you are to stay on track.”

So even though the collar bones on the body of this ballerina-thin girl are jutting out from under her sweater, her job in this ad is to act glum and defeated because she’s having such a tough time losing weight.

No wonder our daughters (and the little girl pictured above) are confused — on the one hand, everyone around them is harping about the obesity epidemic. And on the other hand, the constant stream of impossibly thin young models featured in all types of media makes them feel like they must live up to an impossible standard.

Then they have to watch these ludicrous commercials in which skinny, beautiful young women are bummed out because they are too fat. So instead of living their lives focused on being happy, active and fit, and eating foods that make them healthy and strong, our girls might start to think, “If she’s too fat (not good enough), why do I even bother? I could never look like her.”

I think I might give up, too, and just get out the Ben and Jerry’s and a big spoon. Hollywood and Madison Avenue have created this ridiculous image of what an attractive girl should look like and our girls see themselves as fat, ugly and awkward in comparison.

As moms we must be the ones to talk to our daughters (the younger the better) about how absurd these ads are and how these companies are trying to do one thing and one thing only: sell their products and pull in the big bucks. They want consumers to find their wares appealing, so they choose spokespeople and models who their target audience will find attractive and compelling.

Remind your daughters that the girl on the commercial who seems to be so upset about her weight is really just a well-paid actress who got the gig and did her part with the help of lighting experts, makeup artists, costume fitters, writers, directors and producers. It’s all in a day’s work for her.

She isn’t trying to lose weight, doesn’t eat “Special K” and was probably out of there and on to the next shoot without ever stopping to think about how her image in that commercial might confuse or discourage regular girls everywhere.

(Oh, on second thought, maybe she really is trying to lose weight…after all they won’t hire her unless she’s uber thin).

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.


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One response to ““Special K” – Creating Anorexics As We Speak?”

  1. Dr Efrat Schorr

    Please send this message to the people who make Special K and are trying to sell it by sending terrible messages to kids. Write a letter to them – publish their contact info and COMPLAIN about this! As parents, we need to let this company know that this type of advertising is crossing our red line.
    Dr Efrat Schorr
    HearingFamilies.com

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