Be “Light” or Be Miserable?

Cosmopolitan recently published this Crystal Light advertisement. The Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade “On the Go” packet and text at the top of the ad (“Cop at the bar wants to cuff you. He’s off duty.”) appear standard for the sexually focused Cosmopolitan. However, the bottom text reads “5 calories. 0 guilt. Because you never know.” This is a blatant reference to the portrayal of sex as an act deemed only for svelte women with pretty features. Moreover, the ad attempts to force the viewer to feel guilty about her caloric consumption, maintaining that she must not drink anything but Crystal Light for fear of instantly becoming overweight and, therefore, unable to have sex. The viewer has to be “physically prepared” for the possibility of such an encounter. The third line of text at the bottom is the cherry on top: “Stay light. Crystal Light.” This slogan is a command, telling all women that they must be thin in order to be seen as sexual beings by men. This ad mirrors Bordo’s conclusions about how a slender body is “never neutral,” but always signifies femininity in today’s world (Bordo 204). While highlighting these assumptions regarding feminine beauty that many people share, the ad also upholds the notion of larger bodies being miserable. According to Crystal Light, women should constantly be working to achieve thinner, more beautiful versions of themselves in order to be satisfied. Furthermore, Hesse-Biber’s point that female obsession with thinness keeps them in the status quo is illustrated in this ad (Hesse-Biber 63). Crystal Light demonstrates that happy women worry about looking pretty and being successful within typical heterosexual guidelines, nothing else.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California, 1993.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene. The Cult of Thinness.  Boston College: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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