~by: Anita Kapoor~
Never in my life, have I had such a deep, almost physical response to anything as I did last night, watching your latest commercial on television. The TVC sought to portray the story of an overweight woman’s journey – based on a client’s true story – who’s world apparently changed with her decision to undertake a London Weight Management weight loss programme.
The fact that the team who supported you in writing this story, making this TVC, and allowing it to air, got away with denigrating all women but especially any woman battling weight issues, is shocking.
That London Weight Management strongly views women in this light, and finds it acceptable to send this message out to the world is extremely troubling. It should serve as a warning sign to all women to avoid your services entirely, if this is the psychological backbone of your weight loss business.
In this TVC, you, and all who supported you to produce it, have colluded to portray women as pathetic, unworthy individuals. Losers on every level if they are overweight; winners at every level if they are slim.
This is irresponsible, vile, atrocious advertising, and in every scene you have gone ahead to make many claims. Sticking statistics in small print at the bottom of the screen does not reverse the damage.
Let me break it down for you, because no doubt as you read this, with your lawyers looking over your shoulder, it can be easily assumed you will go on to claim no responsibility.
But you wrote the story, it’s based on an apparent real life client, and your company logo is all over the ad, which means you own the rights to this advertisement.
So let’s discuss:
Scene 1: a woman with a crying baby, looking over the edge of a building.
Impression: The trivialisation of post partum depression and suicide.
Scene 2: woman being thrown out of her firm, because she doesn’t portray the right image.
Impression: That workplace bullying is acceptable, as is the objectification of women in the workplace.
Scene 3: Woman on the scales, then proceeds to have a meltdown.
Impression: The immortalisation of women as screaming, helpless, unhappy out of control banshees – because they cannot manage their weight.
Scene 4: Woman’s husband comes home, ignores his wife, they argue, he then proceeds to violently shout at her.
Impression: That verbal abuse, violence in the home and spousal control is acceptable - if you are overweight.
Scene 5: Woman faints. Lies alone in hospital.
Impression: Your entire life will decline, you will bear the brunt of no income, no love, no family support, and illness – if you are overweight.
Scene 6: Woman has an a-ha moment. The answer to your problems? A weight loss company called London Weight Management.
Impression: London Weight Management has the ability to change your life. If you lose weight that is.
Scene 7: 20 kgs or so less, the woman is happier, dresses sexier, can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror. And, she has a better relationship with her husband. Look, even her baby is happier.
Impression: As a slim woman, you can have it all. As an overweight woman you having nothing. All overweight women should aspire to this fantasy world, for the sake of their sanity, their marriage, their children. As a slim woman, you too can be loved.
It is companies like yourself that constantly prey on the insecurities of women – and men – and have done so, unchecked, for years. Coupled with the clear lack of advertising standards in this country – how else would this advertisement have aired – you continue to be allowed to send out psychologically dangerous and inappropriate messages about self esteem, weight management and femininity.
You should be thoroughly ashamed at this atrocious, shallow television commercial. It is not only the worst reflection of your business ethos and morals, whether you intended this or not, but it serves to reflect how you view women and overweight women: unworthy, unloved, unsupported, and deserving of any and all abuse as a result.
This open letter first appeared on Anita Kapoor's blog (see HERE).