Saturday, 14 January 2012

My Posts: Cereals - The Ultimate Guilt Trip

Two cereal ads, one from the 1950s and one from the 21st century. In both ads women are the main targets, as purchases of the product.

He's the first ad

Now okay, the ad was made in the 50s, so the comments of the man failing at his job, not because he wasn't organised but because his wife didn't give him his proper breakfast, is coercion. Now before you ask why am I bringing this up, that was almost sixty years ago. I believe that even now women are still being coerced when it comes to buying cereal.

Take this 'Special K' ad from the UK (2011)

Whilst the first ad coerced the woman by the 1950s context of housewife and caretaker, the one who is in charge of buying the food, thus giving her husband good meals and making him successful, the 2011 takes on a similar coercion, but in a modern way.

The 2011 one coerces us into buying the cereal for us to fit in with the 21st Century standard of beauty. Also, the association with beauty, slimness and a relaxing lifestyle for me does not go unnoticed. Sometimes I eat Special K, and when I do I hope it would give me the energy for educational purposes, or work purposes. None of the women in the ad are indulging in a healthy lifestyle, due to the fact that it isn't just Special K that keeps you healthy. They're all posing, or lounging about, none of them are engaging in anything like office work, the most physical strain I can see is the woman with her suitcase. The emphasis on jeans also creates this false impression of slimness and something I call 'Clothes Control', which is a theory of mine. Clothes control is, basically, the idea that due to 21st beauty myths clothes have great power over us. It's like when formal time rolls around, and I see all those girls I know diet so they can fit in their 'perfect dress.' It's the idea that there is a powerlessness involved when purchasing clothes, due to ideals that society sets upon us about perfect size. Clothes control gets out of hand when I know women who don't buy their own size, because they have unrealistic goals

Lastly the thing that annoys me the most about the ad is the language they use. The contrast of words such as 'squeeze you' or 'hug you', kind of makes you think about how your jeans fit, it's basically a guilt trip, it's like saying if your pants are squeezing you, they must hug you, otherwise you're obviously gaining weight. Finally the phrase 'And see if you can turn your meanest critics into your greatest assets,' also disturbs me. It's creating a false myth that women aren't valued on their intelligence or skill, but that you, the consumer, your value should be judged by a pair of jeans.

So, that was just a small rant on cereal ads, and this is part one, part two is going to involve coercion in the context of motherhood. So look out for that.


  1. "21st beauty myths"


    What are you going on about? Beauty myths have existed since the beginning of time. And the relationship between food, clothes, size and beauty as a tool for manipulating/coercing mothers (and women in general) in the decision making process is nothing new. It's called marketing.

    Your "Clothes Control" theory is interesting and I look forward to discussing it around the dinner table.


    P.S. Can you go through and fix the grammatical and formatting errors please.

  2. Dear Dad

    The beauty myth, okay I do admit, may have been more late 20th century invention. But it replaced the idea of women being the perfect wives and mothers. If you remember our conversation from this evening, I debated this with you. But then you made a misogyny joke, so you may not remember this.

    As to 'Clothes Control', I can tell you now, you're in for an epic debate.


    P.S. Well, in postmodernist view, you are a pineapple.