Does This 'Power to the Thinnest' Ad Campaign Promote Body-Shaming?

·Senior Editor

An ad campaign touting a new featherweight laptop from HP is being denounced by some who find its slogan to be a body-shaming insult to anyone who isn’t skinny.

“This kind of advertising promotes fatphobia and negative body image. #ShameOnYouHP,” notes body-image author and activist Virgie Tovar on Instagram, where she has a loyal following of more than 13,600.

The ad, for HP’s new Spectre, an ultraslim, 2.45-pound laptop, uses the phrase “Power to the Thinnest” and has posted it throughout public spaces, including San Francisco’s transit stations, where Tovar noticed it. In her post, she asks followers to join her in telling HP, through tagged posts, that its campaign is “body shaming” and “unacceptable.”

The Body Positive, a resource- and support-based organization in Berkeley, Calif., agrees with Tovar, and took to Twitter to express its dismay:

Supportive commenters noted the ad uses “poor word choice,” and was the result of a “thoughtless moment.” On Facebook, one commenter said she saw the campaign in New York and that it made her “very uncomfortable,” some pointed to other questionable phrasing by HP found on the company website. There, the skinny Spectre is “completely irresistible,” “beautifully crafted for seduction,” and that “the biggest obsessions come in the thinnest packages.”

Still, there were detractors of the negative reactions, too, with one commenter asking, “But do we really want a fat laptop? I’m all about body positivity but when it comes to electronics it’s kinda fair to say we want our notebooks thin.” Another was less kind, noting, “This has nothing to do with body size. It’s talking about laptops, for f*** sake. ‘Oh my god! They used the word thin, I must shame them!’ Isn’t it exhausting being a professional f****ng victim all the time? This has nothing to do with ‘fatphobia’ and everything to do with lightweight electronics.”

But according to Tovar, who edited the anthology Hot and Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion, and who speaks on body empowerment at college campuses across the country, it actually has a lot to do with fatphobia. “One thing that marketing and advertising does is play on preexisting understandings, and here, the preexisting knowledge is that thinness — corporeal thinness — is power,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “The magic of advertising manipulation is it is deniable, especially when it’s playing on social stigma and bigotry. That’s the nature of the double entendre — that it’s a bit clever and that some will get it and some won’t.”

Regarding the dust-up, a spokesperson for HP tells Yahoo Beauty, “Creating the world’s thinnest laptop is in an engineering feat that is celebrated through this ad. The visual focus of these ads is very clearly on the device itself and not intended in any way to portray any other message.”

But Tovar adds that the campaign seems to simply be a part of a phenomenon in which tech companies market themselves as cutesy. “It’s like, ‘Oh, look at us being cheeky! We are unafraid to say the truth!’” she says. “So they confirm this age-old bigotry — by reimagining it as something innovative.”

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