That they responded favorably to this crapola makes me feel more alienated from my sisters than ever. In an attempt to get women to buy Baked Lays, Smartfood and Flat Earth snacks, Frito Lay has launched a campaign of advertisements and an incredibly involved website that allegedly represents “a woman’s world.” Suffice it to say a woman’s world is a living hell wherein she devotes nearly all her mental and physical energy to fitting into her skinny jeans.
Four cartoon women star in a series of webisodes, and appear in print and tv ads. According to the website, they’re “funny, fabulous, and fearlessly female.” Gag. What does it mean to be “fearlessly female?” Judging by the campaign, to be female is to be utterly consumed with one’s weight. Cheryl’s “secret shame,” according to her detailed personality profile, is “I lost five pounds but somehow they found me again.” The women’s self-punishment is presented in a whimsical, tee-hee-isn’t-it-a-riot manner. All they do is complain about their bodies, begrudgingly exercise, and strictly police their food consumption. If that appeals to you, you can become one of the girls by creating an avatar in your likeness.
Sadly, this does appeal to many women. A lot of people claim they’re not susceptible to media messages but those people are in denial. The media shows us who we (allegedly) are, we absorb those images, and we become them. Art imitates life and life imitates art (I use the word “art” loosely) and eventually it’s impossible to tell whether our realities inform advertising or vice versa.
My first instinct is to cry, “women are not like that!” when I see commercials and websites like “Only in a Woman’s World.” But is that true? If a large proportion of women were not like that, companies would not invest millions of dollars in campaigns like this. And campaigns like this mold women into even more severe cases of neurotic food policewomen who fear “bikini season” more than death. I want to be mad at the advertisers, and I am, but it’s not fair to place all the blame at their feet. Feminism is still necessary; let’s start with Cheryl.