Subway: Get fat, lose your boyfriend

TroubleInChina pointed out how a commercial from Subway crosses the line from humor at the expense of fast food (acceptable) to the hilarity of how women should be punished for failing to be underweight:

We’ve got in one fine package the idea that men are totally shallow and never find women who are overweight attractive; women are neurotically obsessed with their appearance and will end up in therapy with feelings of shame about their weight after their shallow boyfriends leave them; this will all happen if you have a burger combo.

Go read the rest of her take on it where she explains precisely why it’s not just funny.

Comments

  1. sbg says

    Excuse my language, but I fucking hate those commercials. 1) They rely on ideas that aren’t particularly healthy in and of themselves (but who cares, their food is “healthy”, right?) and 2) there are limited things on Subway’s menu that are marginally better for you than other fast food places, and I’m certain most people don’t have the slightest clue the number of calories and fat grams they consume at this “healthy” fast food alternative.

    Plus, I refuse to pay $5.00 for a sandwich I could pretty much make at home.

  2. says

    I think the commercial almost works. Almost, but not quite. If they had just stayed with the idea that Subway food is better for you than regular fast food, it would have been fine. But the part about “loss of boyfriend” pushes it too far into questionable territory. They could have left that part out and been fine. I will give the writers credit for at least having the girl say that she’s not signing up for the “loss of self-esteem” part.

    I do have to take issue with something you wrote in your intro, however.
    You wrote:
    …the hilarity of how women should be punished for failing to be underweight:

    I don’t think that’s what the commercial is trying to say. I think that using the word underweight here was unnecessary. The commercial doesn’t use it, and the implication is not there. The commercial makes the case that fast food is bad for you, and that Subway is good for you (I’m not so sure how good for you it really is, but this is the gimmick that they’ve been running with for several years now.)
    I feel that underweight is a very inflammatory word to use here. It implies that there are only two states of being- fat or underweight. The girl in the commercial is not anorexic, nor does she express any desire to be. The writers are not saying that she needs to be underweight to be a viable girlfriend, just that she should avoid fast food and try to be healthy. There’s nothing in the commercial saying that a person needs to be under-weight. They are merely advocating a healthy diet, not an eating disorder. Whether or not their food is really all that healthy (questionable), or whether the commercial is obnoxious or not (it kinda is), I think that it’s unfair to use the word “underweight” here.

    Respectfully,
    John Foley

  3. says

    John, I agree with what you said here – in fact, I almost mentioned that if they’d only stuck to the health impact of the meal choice instead of throwing in the boyfriend remark, there’d be nothing to talk about. However, as the author I linked to states, the problem is not just what’s in this commercial, but the fact that it does not exist in a vacuum and therefore will be filtered into a cultural context (“can’t be too rich or too thin”) regardless of what its makers intended.

    Plus, the “loss of boyfriend” remark really does force it into a context of value judgment: the boyfriend is dismissing her because she got fat, which implies so can we. Which echoes what our culture is always telling us: get fat and you forfeit the right to be loved. “Fat” being a size 2 in this warped culture.

    So when I said that Subway crossed the line, I didn’t mean in terms of intent (I don’t claim to know what they intended), I mean in terms of impact.

  4. Karith says

    In much the same way that the commercial would have been fine without the reference to “loss of boyfriend”, your intro would have been fine if the word underweight were replaced with thin.

  5. Karith says

    You’ve turned The Media into this entity that thinks with a singular thought: women must be underweight. That’s hardly the case.

  6. says

    You’ve turned The Media into this entity that thinks with a singular thought: women must be underweight. That’s hardly the case.

    No, I’ve observed that of all the women employed by the media in careers where the women are visible (acting, modeling, newscasting, etc.), only a very small percentage of the women are at or above a healthy weight. Meanwhile, a higher percentage of men employed in these professions are not even what we call “slim” in the off-screen world.

    That sends the message that women must be underweight.

  7. Karith says

    No, I’ve observed that of all the women employed by the media in careers where the women are visible (acting, modeling, newscasting, etc.), only a very small percentage of the women are at or above a healthy weight. Meanwhile, a higher percentage of men employed in these professions are not even what we call “slim” in the off-screen world.

    That sends the message that women must be underweight.

    Do you have any numbers to back that up or is this based on your opinion?

  8. says

    Sure. If you sit there and name to yourself all the actresses you can think of who are normal sized – and remember, TV ads 10 pounds, so if they look “normal” they are actually underweight – and then name every actress you know of in history, you will find it’s a very small percent.

    Do the same exercise with the male actors, and you’ll see it’s a much higher percent.

    Of course, it’s easier when you’ve been noticing this all your life and watching the trends, so here are some catch-up links to get you started so that you, too, can become aware of what a problem the underweight beauty standard is.

    http://www.ceruleanbutterfly.com/rolemodels.html
    http://www.helium.com/tm/70382/media-images-called-perfect
    http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/4616/ppl1018.html
    http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=beautiful_addictions
    http://thehathorlegacy.com/lets-talk-about-love/
    http://actressarchives.com/news.php?id=1064

    If you want more, go to any search engine and type “underweight actresses” and you’ll find pages and pages on the topic.

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