Much ado about advertising and the childhood obesity epidemic. A summit
surmised we’re hapless victims of a diabolical plot to crush this
planet under the weight of billions of chubby children. Seems like cobblers
to me. Then I remembered over a decade ago, a new brand of corn chip hit
the market with the jingle: “You can’t say no – just
say CC”. Several sombrero sporting faux-Mexicans nodded in hypnotic
rhythm, and thus a crisp, subliminal message was thrust upon billions
of unsuspecting junkfood junkies-in-the-making. There it was - the root
cause of the obesity epidemic in a nutshell, courtesy of Latin American
strong-arm tactics. How on Earth could we refuse?
Okay, it’s still bollocks. However, the jingle was a self-fulfilling
prophesy. Today’s parents can’t say no.
Somehow a backlash against much stricter parenting practices of the 50s,
has resulted in an obscene tipping of the balance. Sure, exploitation
is rife in advertising but only the commonsense-impaired are in peril.
Ad gurus are only too aware modern parents don’t command the same
respect as their predecessors. As trade secrets go, this is one is no
KFC recipe. Today’s soft parents were nutured by the “near
enough is good enough” schooling principles that emerged in the
late 70s and early 80s (when they stopped correcting spelling mistakes).
In society’s valiant attempt to keep youth self-esteem at a premium,
it has all but knobbled a vital cog in the wheel of humanity – character
When our parents pressed home their adult advantage, we resented it, sure,
but a little healthy fear kept many a waivering young ratbag on the straight
and narrow. Not so these days. Parents have lost all credibility. When
I fell pregnant, friends warned me of how difficult times ahead were going
to be. “They’re all into designer labels these days, it’s
going to cost you a fortune.”
I scoffed then and I’m pleased to say 15 years later, I’m
still scoffing. Too much of parenting is free-range and children rule
the roost. It’s as if parents think love is delivered via Mattel
and Ronald MacDonald and if they don’t cough up the dough they aren’t
good parents. It’s easy to blame the supermarkets for putting candy
at children’s eye-level, but all it takes is for a parent to cave
in once and from that point on, they have only themselves to blame. If
you show your child that there is no backing down from the word “no”,
come hell or high water, then they learn no means no - not “after
ten minutes of crying and wearing me down, no will mean yes. A recent
episode of “A current Affair” addressed this “problem”
with a segment entitled: How to say no to your toddler. Parents have lost
Coincidentally, the obesity problem parallels the rise of the ADD and
ADHD phenomenon. All children come into the world as mere innocent lumps
of clay, but they can learn mighty quick how to throw Mum and Dad on the
potter’s wheel and make a natty ashtray. We are meant to set boundaries
– but some consider this notion cruel. The cruelty is allowing children
to do (and eat) whatever they want – they don’t call it comfort
food for nothing. Children need guidance. I’m not advocating abusive
stand-over tactics, just a lot less apathy.
Now the big fast food company’s face a similar a fate to the tobacco
companies. No one wants to take responsibilty for themselves, let alone
their children. I don’t agree with anyone who was born after 1960
suing tobacco companies – the writing was on the wall well before
then, and I certainly don’t agree with any right-minded fatty suing
Macca’s for making crap. It tastes like crap so what were they expecting?
Do these people live under rocks? Don’t tell me they haven’t
heard of the food pyramid, or that too much fried food is bad for you.
Advertising companies also make ads about health food. It’s all
shown on the same networks. It’s pretty hard to shoot the messenger
with a Big Mac in one hand and the remote control in the other. We all
have to walk into the room of mirrors – and if they reflect like
fun house mirrors, then it’s time for us to change our habits. Remember
that saying “this hurts me a lot more than it hurts you”?
Well love hurts – and sometimes that involves seeing your child
How ironic, that in the fight against the upsurge of drug and alchohol
abuse and sexual promiscuity among teenagers, the advertising slogan was:
“Just say no”. I suggest they repackage that campaign and
aim it at parents.