The weekend came and went with lots of vodka, homework, and random ridiculousness…not all in that order of course but you get the picture. Typical student life. Early on in the weekend I’m in the liquor store with my roommate choosing our pick of poison for a night out. I’m immediately drawn to the Skinny Girl vodka, not because of its promise to save me calories, but because I can collect extra airmiles.
I take a closer look at the bottle. Their claim–which stood out almost like an over-exaggerated achievement on the label–stated that one serving was “ONLY 40 CALORIES!!” It’s at this point that I become skeptical.
I turn the bottle over only to find out *gasp* that a serving size is a measly 25mL. Now I’m no math wiz but I was pretty sure this amount fails to measure up to a shot. I asked my roommate to google a conversion of mL to oz and sure enough it’s only about 3/4 of a shot. Of course we decide to bypass on that and pick up our usual cheapie brand but when I got home I was actually pretty annoyed by the whole thing and thinking further into it. What does this brand imply about women’s alcohol consumption, or at least their concerns about it?
I used to work in a grocery stocking shelves and when I was especially bored I would read the labels of some of the products I was putting on the shelves. I still remember the time I was stocking hot chocolate, and noticing the difference between the light and regular versions. It seemed at the time like a hard feat to make hot chocolate less calorific…and I was right. Quite literally the only difference between the two–they were the same brand–was that the light version with less calories was HALF THE SERVING SIZE, and thus half the calories.
60% less calories? Ha! Try 60% less serving. And, as it turns out, this is a common occurrence in food advertising.
Coming across Skinny Girl, I was reminded of this hilarious and ridiculous kind of marketing yet again. Give the people what they want right? And what better than to play off women’s insecurities with their self esteem and image, insecurities which are in fact established by the media and advertising to begin with.
It’s a smart idea really: develop the problem, and then develop a solution to the problem. Then charge money for people to be able to realize the solution themselves.
The interesting thing about Skinny Girl is that it isn’t just vodka anymore, it’s a whole movement now: workout gear, healthy lifestyle and nutrition advice, etc. Check out the website here: http://www.skinnygirldaily.com/
I was also slightly surprised to find out that the founder of the company is a woman, Bethenny Frankel, a TV personality and “entrepeneur” whose main claim to fame was through the show Real Housewives of New York.
You take one look at her and you can tell already why her brand is Skinny Girl. As my boyfriend perfectly summarizes, “You can tell she’s one of those people who were born thin, and can tell other people how to stay skinny, but has never had to go through any major transformation.”
And I guess now that I think of it, she isn’t necessarily hiding that fact. My problem with it however is that all over her website she has these inspirational quotes and tricks on how to “remain naturally thin” as if skinny is the new healthy. You can be almost any size and still be healthy, and the Skinny Girl movement necessarily denies the beauty in other body shapes while insinuating that maintaining thinness is a lifestyle, one that most women should want to embrace.
This is just one example within many forms of advertising geared towards women’s insecurities, which also tries to dictate the ways in which women should be living their lives, or reduce femininity to a certain kind of context.
What can you do to resist it? One kind of form of resistance I found in opposing sexist or misleading advertising is the “Miss Representation” movement, in which people use the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to challenge certain representations within the media. Check it out here: http://www.missrepresentation.org/not-buying-it/
And to conclude, I leave you with a different form of sexist advertising, one that is a little more overt and hilarious, this time provided by Sketcher’s sneakers. Check out the commercial for their newest model, “Daddy’s Money”, below:
When you think about it, it’s kind of ridiculous what we expect when it comes to advertising campaigns.