The Good, the Bad, the Ugly


During the latest Superbowl, I sat in front of the TV. Not because of football. (After having to sit through every one as a member of my high school’s marching band, I think I’m set for life.) No, I watched for what probably over half of the viewers actually tune in for.

The commercials.

Advertisements play such a crucial part in our society. They can shape how we see certain products and our world. While many commercials are humorous and harmless, ones that focus on appearance or body image can make us see ourselves in a different light.

In honor of NEDAwareness Week, here are some of the worst and best commercials about body image:

The Bad

1. Yoplait Raspberry Cheesecake

As if we need more encouragement to label food as either “good” or “bad.” Yes, yogurt is healthier than a slice of cheesecake. But deciding between the two should not be a judgment of your moral worth.

The woman in the ad goes through a thought process reflective of eating disorders. It portrays the obsession about whether to restrict or not to restrict. However, all food is nourishment. If you want a slice of cheesecake, your decision should not be based on if you have been “good” enough. It should be whether that dessert is what your body is craving, what you want to eat, regardless of its implied moral value.

Sorry, Yoplait. I eat yogurt every day for breakfast, but that doesn’t make me a “better” person. I still want cheesecake sometimes

2. Pretzel Thins

Pretzel Thins claims, “You can never be too thin.”

Um, yeah. Sorry, but you can. Granted, the ad is talking about food, but what is this poster saying to people struggling to accept their bodies as worthy because they aren’t “thin” enough? The desire to be thin is a very real threat to men and women alike. We’re in a society that teaches skinniness as ideal and lovable, but anorexia destroys vital organs and can lead to death. In fact, anorexia has one of the highest death rates for mental illnesses.

The Ugly

3. Urban Outfitters

Eat Less shirt

“Eat less.”

Why? What is the use of eating less? So that you’ll deprave your body of nutrients? So a shirt like this won’t fit?

4. Kelloggs


A tagline of “More grains, less you!” stands between two young girls. But why should we be teaching these young kids that we want “less” of them? Growing up should be about embracing your identity and wanting to fill the world with your unique presence.

On the other hand, eating disorders are about shrinking yourself. Whether restricting or purging, EDs make their victims feel like they are worthless, undesirable, unlovable. Kelloggs’ ad is probably one of the most harmful ones I’ve seen. Not only does it imply that we should strive to make ourselves less, but it also targets a very susceptible population in young girls.

The Best

1. Reebok “Be More Human”

We all know exercise is good for you. But exercise addiction is a real issue. When someone spends uses exercise to purge calories, that qualifies as a disorder. Athletes in particular are susceptible when trying to make a certain weight to increase their performance.

But Reebok’s “Be More Human” campaign shows that fitness shouldn’t just be about getting slimmer or trying to attain a certain body image. Fitness should be about celebrating what our bodies can do, helping to improve our everyday lives as well. We all don’t need to do Crossfit or yoga or running or mountain biking. We just need to figure out what activities make us feel good about our bodies.

2. This Girl Can campaign

Same goes for this UK campaign to get girls more active. Not only does the commercial feature real women, but it shows that exercise is about loving ourselves, not hating or punishing our bodies. And I think this idea can apply to men as well.

We can be strong and capable at any shape or size. We can be beautiful.

3. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign

Okay, I know this is for “Five Things Friday” but I’m now I’m going on 7 commercials!

After all, this wouldn’t be a list about body positivity if I didn’t include Dove. Recently, their ads use real women of all ethnicities, ages, and sizes. They don’t say you have to shrink, or that their products will cover up your flaws and imperfects. Rather, these ads suggest you are loveable just the way you are because there are so many definitions of beauty.

What are some of your favorite or least favorite commercials? What do you think of some of these ads?


2 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

  1. Beautiful post! I live in Canada and missed a lot of those harmful commercials. As someone who suffers from an ED, I appreciate you bring to light the problems with the media glorifying eating disorders.
    But it is lovely to see the latter commercials, like my personal fav, the dove ad.
    Thank you!

    • Thanks for your comment! I definitely think a lot of commercials, ads, and media glorify eating disorders, and sometimes without necessarily meaning to. That’s why being critical of the media we see is so important, so that we can change these harmful messages. And I too love the Dove ads!

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