a preponderance of punctuation marks (reedrover) wrote,
a preponderance of punctuation marks

The culture of entitlement; the culture of fat

"Sensa for Men" is running a radio advertisement right now that includes the line "Men, if you are not actively trying to lose weight, then chances are, you deserve to be fat."

This makes my skin crawl for two entirely separate reasons.

My first issue is the culture of entitlement that is perpetuated on the radio. I have an allergy to the word "deserve" in any radio advertisement. "Deserve" means "be worthy of," and implies that someone is making a judgment call on someone else. I don't "deserve" a better car, a cleaner house, or shinier hair. I might want it, I would like it, but nowhere did I give up ownership of myself to some random stranger to judge whether I'm worthy of that thing.

I can certainly decide for myself what kind of balance of wants and needs would accommodate a purchase of some product being offered over the radio. I don't need validation - no, baseless ego-stroking - by radio announcers to make my purchasing decisions.


My second issue with this advertisement is that someone is taking that judgment call and changing it from the usual seduction to an accusation. The word "fat" in this advertisement is in no way positive. "Fat" in this case could be substituted with "shunned" or "ugly" or simply "undesireable."

"You deserve to be fat." The judgment is rendered here that anyone not making a specific effort of time, money, energy, willpower, etc. on This Particular Product is hereby worthy of being derided and degraded, worthy of a loss of self esteem. The negative label of "fat" is slapped upon the listener, all listeners, without any further separation of audience than targeting men. What's more, this judgment is being handed down by some random stranger without any listener's consent.

"You deserve to be fat."


My choices of when and where to spend my money, and on what products, do have results and consequences. Perhaps I do "deserve" to be fat, when my tendencies towards gluttony and sloth are brought forward for "judgment."


Hearing the combination of judgment and insult on the radio in this format is really not a selling point for me. I don't want your product, and actively not using it is not going to make me feel less worthy, of lower esteem, or undesireable.


Consider the social damage being done to people who can't separate radio from reality. The people with eating disorders who hear this radio advertisement ringing in their ears are not going to buy This Particular Product. They are going to go hurt themselves, or call their therapists, or spend another five minutes doing self-validation exercises to cleanse this evil earworm. The downtrodden people who are riding the bus on the way to the soup kitchen are not going to rush out and buy This Particular Product. They are going to hang their heads a little lower and shuffle a little slower, and maybe miss the eye contact and smiles that would otherwise help validate them as human beings today.


Instead, judge yourself. Was this a smart advertisement to run? Was this a positive marketing step to take? Have you gained in market share what you have lost in general good will?


By your standards, I may "deserve" to be fat, but I'm also far happier than if I had purchased your products and supported your marketing campaign.

[I did send a version of this letter directly to Sensa customer service.]
Tags: communication, feelings, food, shopping

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