Today the National Eating Disorders Association applauded Yoplait for agreeing to pull a yogurt ad that echos the internal monologue of someone suffering from an eating disorder. In its defense, the company says it didn't see anything wrong with the ad — and that's precisely the problem.
In the commercial, a woman stares at a cheesecake in the fridge and bargains with herself, saying she could possibly eat a tiny slice because she was "good today." Or, she could have "one large slice while jogging in place followed by eight celery sticks." Then a coworkers swoops in and grabs a raspberry cheesecake flavored yogurt, and the first woman compliments her on losing weight recently.
Lynn Grefe, president of NEDA, says she got in touch with Yoplait and parent company General Mills after receiving phone calls and emails from those suffering with eating disorders, Huffington Post reports. Grefe says that for those coping with the disorders, "opening a refrigerator is like walking off a bridge. And to see this behavior in a commercial tells people with eating disorders, see, it's even on TV. It's ok and normal for my head to go through all these mental exercises."
Grefe adds that she believes the company had "no intent to harm and gained insight into a very serious issue." Tom Forsythe, General Mills' VP of Corporate Communications, responded:
"We had no idea ... The thought had never occurred to anyone, and no one raised the point. We aren't sure that everyone saw the ad that way, but if anyone did, that was not our intent and is cause for concern. We thought it best to take it down."
It's not surprising that no one at the company saw a problem with the ad, because for years society has pushed the idea that only "bad" women allow themselves to "indulge" in dessert. Women aren't supposed to enjoy the occasional slice of cheesecake just because they feel like it, without a hint of remorse afterwards. It definitely is "normal" for women to go through anxiety-ridden bargaining when standing in front of the fridge, as far too many are locked into this way of thinking. However, like Grefe says, that doesn't mean we should send the message that it's healthy to have obsessive thoughts about food.
Yoplait Pulls Ad Said To Promote Eating Disorders [Huffington Post]