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Weight loss as just for women.

May 13, 2009

Sociological Images has a great post today about Pepsi’s new “Pepsi max” a diet soda branded for men. The campaign is based on the inherent joke that real men don’t diet, that these pressures and concerns are only for women.

In searching around the links from this post, I found this video:

Now I have already commented on this campaign in some capacity here, but this video just makes me really angry. The ideas that fat=unhappy (but only for women), that the only thing worse for a woman to be fat is to be fat AND flat chested (the horror!) and that changes in your body will affect men’s pleasure, and that it ok are all pernicious. But what makes me angriest, is that women are supposed to strongly identify with this woman – to laugh along with being unhappy with our weight and worried that our bodies can’t please a man. These type of ads are trying to define what it means to be a woman.

My feminism is based on the idea of a community of women, one that is formed from common experiences and entails some sort of mutual responsibility and respect. What makes me so angry is when the “women’s experience” is defined for me rather than by me. That all these magazines, ads, and products tell us that dieting, feeling insecure, and trying to please men are a universal experience that we all relate to. I hate how the easiest way to strike up an amiable conversation with another woman is to talk about how you shouldn’t eat that cookie, count calories, or exchange body gripes. In many senses, a woman’s experiences is defined by the oppression we face, the many ways patriarchal society restrains us: physically, socially, politically. But I will not let self-inflicted body consciousness define what it means for me to be a women, define the common women’s experiences.

I’d really like it to be defined by our perseverance, strength, and beauty, like in Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    May 13, 2009 6:35 PM

    Yeah, that commercial pisses me off on several levels; as a fat and also small-chested woman who is very happy with her body it’s aggravating to see a commercial saying (specifically to me, it would seem) that I should be unhappy about it. I think for me the most confusing and downright angering thing is how women just gobble up what is forced on them. Just take on these thoughts and ideas and attributes because well, that’s what they’re supposed to do, that’s what’s expected of them. You’re a woman and you don’t constantly worry about your weight? Obviously something is wrong with you. I get so sick and tired of it that sometimes I just want to lay in bed and not see all the bullshit. But I don’t do that, I get up and see it and point it out and dissect and talk about it. And while this annoys and angers some and while others brush me off or laugh at me as some crazy feminist dyke, it doesn’t really fucking matter because I’ve done what I need to do to feel good about the world, and I will continue to do it, day in and day out.

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