I’ve been seeing this sponsored video over and over on Instagram — it’s for some sort of meal-planning service, let’s call it sheMeals. In the clip, a stay-at-home-mom-type is texting with her husband. He writes, “What’s for dinner tonight?” And she starts writing back, “I have no idea.” That right there seems like a perfectly normal response to me, perhaps slightly more pleasant than other variations that also seem fully appropriate (“WHAT AM I, A TAKEOUT MENU? PS: YOUR SON TOOK A DUMP BEHIND THE SOFA AGAIN”), but she pauses, then deletes her message. She then types, “Something delicious that you and the kids will love.”
Mom-Lady then goes through the process of showing how the app works, which I guess involves picking a recipe and then getting a customized shopping list, then we cut to her writing him another message: “All taken care of!” At which point he responds, “My hero!”
How many barfs do I have for this ad? All the barfs. The entire depiction of this woman’s lot in life, down to the condescending head-pat at the end.
I finally decided to click through to the comments, in order to complain mightily into the void, and that’s where I saw person after person writing things like “Hey, this looks really cool!” Or “I need this!” A bunch of people who weren’t, like me, getting butthurt over whether or not their (admittedly inconsistent) views on sexism were being represented by a marketing team, but instead were responding to the features and benefits the app purported to offer.
This is when I probably should have quietly exited, chose the “stop showing me this ad” option, and moved on to other important topics, like perhaps delving into why it is the “My hero!” line specifically made me want to put that fictional guy into a Ronda-Rousey armbar submission, but I did leave a message, something along the lines of “Maybe I’ll evaluate your app when your ad isn’t so demeaning to women, GOSH,” and then my kids were like “What’s for dinner?” and I was like goddammit.
Do you, like me, have shifting relationships with your unwanted extra pounds that are based not at all on what your actual weight or body shape is, but on how your mind has decided to perceive them? For instance, I have noticed that when I am at the beginning of some healthy-eating kick I suddenly start treating my body with a lot more kindness, because I’m newly convinced the rolls and dimples are, like, temporary. It’s like if you’ve ever been stuck talking to someone whose company is unpleasant but once escape is imminent you get a burst of generosity because the keys are jingling and what the hell, why not go in for the goodbye hug.
There’s something similar that happens when I’m in one of those Everything Changes Tomorrow modes (aka Diet Starts on Monday). I haven’t even altered my eating yet — in fact, I’ve probably gone overboard with all the soon-to-be-forbidden foods, because that is a ridiculous thing I tend to do over and over again — but I feel calm and settled about the way I look. Because I have a plan. There are gears that will soon be in motion, so that gives me hope that I will no longer be stuck. The emotional charge drains away, my body becomes mostly neutral rather than roiling with character assassinations.
Kindness, calmness, peace. What a relief is is to feel that way. It would be awfully great if I could find my way to those feelings without subjecting myself to the punishing cycle of restrictions and obsessions, sabotage and failure.