Weighing in on the Protein World advert

Something that’s been depressing & frustrating me for the last couple of weeks is the whole Protein World advert debacle. In case you’ve missed it, it’s the backlash related to this Protein World advert for their weight loss range.

Other people elsewhere have been much more eloquent than I could be about the body image aspects of this advert, so I won’t bother to re-hash that aspect. Except to point out that I totally agree that everyone who feels “beach body ready” is beach body ready, whether they’re a size 4 or a size 32 or whatever. I’m not going to dispute whether or not this advert is promoting rigid body shape ideals – of course it is. I also completely don’t dispute that the lady in the advert looks great (but that doesn’t mean we all have to aspire to look like her).

What’s frustrating me most about this advert, and Protein World’s sneering reaction to it, is this sort of thing:

Statement from Protein World

(This is part of a statement from Protein World themselves in reaction to objection about the advert.)

Protein World say their advert is promoting being healthier, fitter and stronger. But let’s look at the advert copy:

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.43.08 PM

Sorry about the tiny picture; but it says “The Weight Loss Collection, meal replacement & supplements”.

And Protein World themselves are advocating replacing meals with tablets, in order to gain this “beach body” ideal:

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.45.45 PM

Stating the obvious, there’s a total conflict here – what has a “weight loss collection”, where meals are replaced with shakes and tablets, got to do with becoming “healthier, fitter and stronger”? Absolutely nothing. Protein World’s advert is promoting a crash diet, for the sole purpose of becoming thinner, so you can look “good” (for whatever definition of “good” you’re using) in a bikini. And moreover, do you really think the (fitness) model got her look from using this product? Nope.

And yet people are just too dim to see this, are lazily conflating “thinness” with “fitness”, and seeing the backlash as “fit-shaming” :

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 1.55.09 PM

No-one is “fit shaming” in the backlash to this advert. BECAUSE THE ADVERT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FITNESS. You do not get fit and strong from swapping your meals for tablets.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 10.03.13 AM

And again, no-one is denigrating any hard work people do in the gym to look “good” (again, for whatever definition of “good” you’re using). Because this advert is NOT PROMOTING FITNESS. It is promoting a very low-calorie diet, a meal replacement diet.

Do you think the CEO of Protein World, Arjun Seth, got to look like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.53.46 PM

… by replacing his meals WITH TABLETS?

Of course he fucking didn’t.

So seriously, if you’re reading the Protein World advert backlash as “fit shaming” or “lazy fatties” denigrating the hard work you’ve put in at the gym…stop. Stop and read the advert copy, for pity’s sake. You have fallen hook, line and sinker for Protein World’s cynical goading and you’re just denigrating yourself: because nobody who actually goes to the gym would touch Protein World’s “Weight Loss Collection” with a bargepole.

Not even Arjun Seth himself.


7 thoughts on “Weighing in on the Protein World advert

  1. Caitlin

    This is awesome. I’m into being as fit, healthy and strong as I possibly can, which is why I eat actual food instead of taking overpriced pills and powders that contains god knows what kind of garbage.

    1. lozette Post author

      Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-protein powders. In fact I don’t really like snobbery vis-a-vis “real food” vs supplements. If I “did nutrition” and wanted to get a certain amount of protein every day, then I would have to use protein powders as there’s no way I could stomach the food I’d need to get, say, 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight (or whatever they recommend).

      I use protein shakes, but only 3 per week because I don’t “do nutrition” and I can’t be bothered to take any more.

      My objection to Protein World here is for this product in particular (which is not protein powders per se, but meal replacements) and the way it’s advertised. Protein supplements, when used as a *supplement* to meals, are fine IMHO.

      1. Caitlin

        I totally get that. I just also think that for the vast majority of people, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t require protein powders or supplements, and as we’ve been seeing lately, those kind of supplements can actually run counter to good health because they aren’t regulated the way drugs and food are and so your ability to know exactly what it is you’re ingesting is limited.

        I feel like supplements *can* play a role but most people really don’t need them. I regard them the way I regard a lot of products marketed under the guise of “health and fitness” – useful to people who know how to use them correctly, but not nearly as useful as just getting regular physical activity and eating reasonably well.

      2. lozette Post author

        Good point about not knowing what’s in them… I’m def guilty of just assuming they “work” because people preach about them so much. Agreed that most people don’t need them – I guess in powerlifting (& other strength sports) they’re so universally used that I feel like the odd one out for not trying to eat loads of protein (or vegetables!)

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