Move over, red swimsuit lady: Special K announced today that they'll be using plus-sized "real women" with BMIs of up to 29 as models for a new campaign. (25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.) The cereal company has somewhat of a reputation based on the "celebrities" that have eaten it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in order to lose weight, so the initiative is likely an attempt to appeal to normal people who aren't interested in starving themselves. Although that's not how they put it, obviously.
"We want to encourage a responsible attitude when it comes to body image and to show that losing weight isn't just about the way you look or a certain size you need to conform to, but more importantly about the way it makes you feel," a spokesperson said. "The fact that we are using real women for the first time of a variety of shapes and sizes is the perfect way to encourage women to think differently about losing weight and not just focus on the numbers on the bathroom scales."
The "What will you gain when you lose" tag isn't actually new — Special K launched a campaign with the same name back in January 2011 — but now you can make your own motivational videos on the company's website by uploading your photo and the vague empowering nouns you want to achieve by losing weight (and eating cereal), like "oomph," "joy," "sass," "moxie," "pride," and "peace." A disclaimer on the site notes that "some images are of paid participants." You'd have to pay me to say Special K leads to "sex appeal," too.
Yeah, it's kind of cheesy, but there's really no reason to be all that cynical about the campaign; it's definitely a move in the right direction. And listen to one of the women featured in the ads, Katie McNeil, who has a BMI of 29 was selected while out shopping: "I think it's really inspiring to see more realistic women and body sizes instead of size eight models all the time in advertising, which is why I was delighted to take part. Losing weight for me is about feeling great whatever size or weight I am and this campaign sums that up perfectly." And in case you miss the red swimsuit lady already (which would be weird, but we're not judging), don't fret: "The Special K girl will still be used in other advertising as she is a long-standing icon of our brand but we still insist she has a BMI of at least 21, as we only want to use healthy body images." Phew.