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Worst Media Messaging: April, 2011

Posted Apr 30 2011 12:57am

Children’s T-shirts brandishing the Kate Moss motto, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” are being sold online in the UK by online mass-marketer Zazzle.com.  They are sold alongside baby clothes that read, “Don’t feed the model.”

Clearly, this is just the kind of messaging you want your kids to avoid.  The first thing to note is that “skinny” is NOT a feeling.  Happy is a feeling, and so is sad and despairing.  The idea here is pretty clear – to blur the lines and to get you, the consumer, to feel as if the feeling of skinny will make you happier.

If this is true, then why are anorexics so miserable?  The answer, of course, is that body type is not linked to emotion and that getting skinny is NOT going to make one happy.  In fact, it is often the case that young people develop the food habits surrounding anorexia specifically BECAUSE they are so unhappy.  Without the proper pyschological interventions they are not going to get happy, either.

The second thing to note is the play on the idea that models (our “beautiful people”) should not be eating.  Here we see the subtle and subconscious blending of popularity and beauty with thinness.  If the expression “Don’t feed the model” could be deconstructed it would look something like this:

Models are our most beautiful people and, as such, should be treasured.
Please don’t give them food because if you did they would get fat – and
that would ruin them.

We here at EatingKids.com are really furious that this product has come to market.  However, it is a teaching opportunity for us and, therefore, we hope you’ll take advantage of it.  Here’s how to take some positive steps:

1. NEVER let your kids wear this kind of clothing.
2. EXPLAIN to them how doing so is disrespectful to themselves and sends a terrible message.
3. If you see someone wearing it CALMLY let them know that you don’t approve.  Of course, please don’t start a fight over it.  People are usually so taken back by your disapproval they’ll shy away from wearing it in the future.
4. Write to Zazzle.com and let them know you’re upset with their choice to sell this kind of nonsense.

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