Registered dietitian highlights commercials from the '80s, '90s, and '00s promoting diet culture: ‘This is burned into my brain’

Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of eating disorders and disordered eating. Please take care while reading and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.

Registered dietitian Lauren Cadillac (@feelgooddietitian) has dedicated a series on her TikTok page to revisiting popular commercials from the 2000s that used diet culture to sell their products.

While going through these videos, Cadillac saw the advertisements’ tactics and began to connect them to her issues around how she views food — and herself.

One of the main commercials Cadillac decided to highlight was a 2004 ad for Yoplait Light, which showed a woman eating the brand’s yogurt because she was trying to fit into a yellow polka-dot bikini hung on the wall for motivation.

“POV: Your food and body image issues start making more sense,” Cadillac wrote on her video post.

While that commercial aired nearly 20 years ago, people are still connecting it to body insecurities from their childhood and teen years.

“This is burned into my brain,” replied @sofarits_alright.

“I used to hang goal outfits on my wall because of this commercial. I was SIXTEEN,” commented @jamierunningwild.

Just like @jamierunningwild experienced as a teen, the younger generation is also battling body image issues, thanks to things they see in the media. Because of filters and edited photos, some Gen Z-ers are fighting a battle with body dysmorphia right now.

While dealing with body issues, some people have begun to turn to certain prescription drugs to try to reach their goals. The drug Ozempic has become popularly known as a weight-loss drug — despite it normally being prescribed for diabetes.

According to a study done by Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 9% of Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their life.

Yoplait’s diet culture concept used for the commercials wasn’t a new tactic. Advertisements in the 1980s also capitalized on these methods, especially an infamous Special K commercial.

In that advertisement, people’s stomachs were squeezed as the narrator said, “If you can pinch more than an inch, try the Special K diet.”

That line rang in the ears of several viewers who heard that line from their parents and other elders, which Cadillac pointed out in her video.

“POV: you realize your mom was a victim of diet culture too,” she wrote in her post.

In the comments, several users disclosed how they were pinched as children to check their body fat at home and even at school in gym class.

Cadillac’s series spotlights how generations of people have had to deal with the effects of diet culture in myriad ways and are still trying to break free from those habits.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating habits, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741. Visit the NEDA website to learn more about the possible warning signs of eating disorders and disordered eating.

If you or someone you know needs support after experiencing weight-related bias or discrimination, contact the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance at 916-558-6880 or via an online form. You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741.

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