Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fatgirlslim: Right Here, Right Now

This post is for all the girls out there who would like to lose a few pounds.  This is for all of you who have tried the Beyoncé-certified liquid diet or have considered the lemon juice, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, maple syrup—5-7 days straight.  Yum?  This is for everyone who has binged and purged; this is for anyone who has used laxatives to lose those last five pounds.  This is for any girl who has skipped that one last Christmas cookie; who has rejected a sandwich because “it just has too many carbs” (does anyone these days even know why we need carbohydrates to, you know, live?).  This is for the skinny girl who thinks she’s a fat girl and for all the girls who think it’s okay to label each other “fat” or “skinny.”  This is for the girls who have done none of these things.  This post is for you.

Women’s issues are everyone’s issues, but sometimes we forget how integrated they are in our everyday lives.  I was walking through Sephora with some girlfriends the other day, and attempted to pass by the Bliss section like I normally do: by looking straight ahead so I’m not tempted to drop hundreds of dollars on the totally “necessary” beauty products.  I’ll give them this, their marketing is superb.  They had a line of “Mint Romney” and “Orange Obama” lotion gifts with purchase over the election season that was genius!  

This time, I was startled by a line of products that I had never seen before.  They call it Fatgirlslim, which I guess is a take on the artist Fatboy Slim (well, at least I’d like to think so).  Being the self-proclaimed feminist I am I was taken aback by the title.  Who are you calling Fatgirl?  The disproportionate Barbie-like drawing on the cover of the package?  That fake-tanned Bliss princess?  Or are you calling me Fatgirl?  ‘Cause that Barbie figure sure as hell couldn’t stand to lose even half a pound without dropping below a healthy BMI.

Speaking of healthy, how good can these products be?  I saw Fatgirlslim soap, cream, spray, and some intimidating vibrating machine (and not the good kind).  All of these products supposedly give us women a six-pack (“Pick up a six pack,” says the box with the Barbie sketch), but last time I checked those came from Pilates and sets of crunches.  Are these products supposed to replace the diet and exercise which we have always been told will lead us to a healthy lifestyle?  Have we been deceived this entire time, told we had to actually take care of our bodies when all we need to do is drop fifty bucks on a vibrating tummy-tuck contraption? 

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll pass.

What do you think?  Am I completely overreacting to Bliss’ Fatgirlslim product line, or is this an issue that deserves attention?

- Sabrina Yudelson


  1. Whether or not it is an overreaction, in my opinion, would depend on which reaction you are asking about. I think that your response to the naming and packaging is a slight overreaction. It is not as though the company is maliciously bullying, insulting, or belittling women with its marketing strategy. One should bear in mind that it is simply that: a marketing strategy! I feel that many overweight women identify themselves, consciously or subconsciously, as fat girls who would love to get slim. The people who christened it Fatgirlslim and put that woman on the package did so with one goal in mind, which was to successfully market this to as many women as possible. While it is easy to hyper-focus on the issue of media and products influencing women, it might also be important to keep in mind the flip side of the coin, that women influence the products. I don't think your reaction is without merit, but it might be overdone. Maybe it is because I am a male, or because I am also also looking at this from the marketing perspective rather than solely the consumer or feminist one. In any case, I do not think this brand name, although blunt, is worthy of opposition.

    On the other hand, I feel that your response to the ideology implicit in this product's very existence is completely justified. Products like these are dangerous to women's health because they convey the idea that health and fitness can be achieved by substituting exercise and proper diet for a few expensive products. This is the real issue that has been a problem for as long as I can remember, and one that will continue to set women back in the long run. In this instance, you were not overreacting. If anything, products like this warrant an even greater response.

    1. I think this marketing strategy is indeed a "real issue," and incredibly problematic, almost as much so as ignoring the implications behind advertising. From my perspective, the name of this product does belittle women. Let's break it down. Notice the word "girl." Last time I checked, it's not girls, but women who shop at Sephora. Referring to adults as children has happened before - how would an African American man feel if called "boy'? That's belittling. Also, whether or not women think of themselves as "fat" (never mind as "fat girls"...I don't think of myself as a child, but maybe that's just me) does not justify a company promoting a degrading mindset in order to make a profit. Fat has negative connotations, and it is insulting. How can I tell? If the word would not be respectful, appropriate way to refer to a friend, then yes, it is an insult. If anyone had the nerve to call me a fat girl, I would be horribly insulted.

      I don't think many of us hyper-focus on the media's misrepresentation of women - it needs to be talked about more. We need to talk about it loudly and in protest until the present situation changes. The media sets an impossible standard, with nearly every magazine cover, photo shoot, and movie, and I think the only way women are part of the problem is when we become passive and complicit in society's unreasonable expectations. Think about the whole concept of the store that sells this ridiculous line of products. Where is there a store for men that's main goal is to sell thousands of individual products intended to perfect their appearances?

      Thank you, Sabrina, for your point that "women's issues are everyone's issues." I believe that sexist thinking will not just "set women back," as our anonymous male suggested, but hinder the advancement of everyone, gender aside. It's great to get the conversation going.

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