It’s not even January yet and the diet propaganda has already started.
I was scrolling through Facebook and enjoying my second cinnamon swirl of the morning when I noticed all the new sponsored adverts now appearing under every few posts.
The first was for an expensive subscription plan that promises to change the way you eat using the power of psychology.
The second advert was in the form of a quiz that tells you how to achieve your ‘”weight care’’ goals.
The third was a machoistic “meal replacement’’ service. Because everybody knows that only true gluttons eat solid foods.
Maybe we should aspire to live our best skinny lives by copying the way tiny, toothless new-born babies eat.
There must be a big red button that advertisers push in the days after Christmas.
One that steers us violently away from the images of delicious, indulgent food they’ve peddled throughout December and into this new hellscape.
Where we’re berated for our “over-indulgence’’ and – just as the snow is predicted to fall – we’re warned it’s time to get beach body ready.
Give me a break.
Actually, give me another cinnamon swirl.
A festive tradition we could all do without
I’m so sick of these daft adverts cluttering up my social media feeds every time New Year approaches.
And in case you are wondering, they are not based on my search history.
I don’t need to look back to know that I Googled nothing even remotely diet or weight-loss related throughout December.
In the past week, the only thing I searched for were recipes, Christmas movie recommendations and remedies for stress-induced migraines.
I didn’t ask for a dose of self-loathing mixed in with the happy photos of my friends and family celebrating Christmas and I don’t want it.
But I know that I’m the target market for the weight-loss vultures.
No matter what I do, they’ll continue to chase me around every corner of the internet, slapping the chocolate out of my hand and whacking me over the head with a bag of kale.
Is social media carrying too much weight?
Social media companies know a frankly terrifying amount of information about our lives.
We’re not merely users of these services, we’re potential consumers too.
So Mr Facebook knows I’m single. He knows I’m in my early 30s. He knows I have a daughter. And he knows that I’d probably benefit from having a significant other who could do DIY for me.
I’ll bet he’s scanned my recent photos into his Big Database of Doom and correctly deduced that I’ve put on a bit of weight this year.
He’s taken that information and decided that this chubby singleton is ripe picking for the diet mob.
supper for 1 pic.twitter.com/5UqsmZt1Vx
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) December 25, 2021
I’m not, though.
And if I was willing to explore the benefits of drinking water, going for a power-walk or eating the occasional salad, it certainly wouldn’t be this week.
These diet companies, aided and abetted by the social media giants, feed off of our insecurities (and they’re zero calorie so they don’t even feel guilty about it.)
Sometimes reality doesn’t match the hype
Advertisers use our emotions like cashpoints.
Over Christmas, they push out visions of the perfect family Christmas which (unsurprisingly) they tell us can only be achieved if we buy their products.
I’m far from immune to these tricks.
I let my daughter pick the Christmas dessert this year. She chose a cake from Aldi.
I don’t live near an Aldi and don’t drive, so her dad was charged with going to pick it up.
In the promo material, the cake was described as ‘’Instagram-worthy’’.
It was basically a fancy chocolate sponge.
It looked great in the photo, but your standard yule log would have probably tasted just as good.
I had to laugh when we assembled the thing on Christmas day.
The photo promised a glittering gold masterpiece.
There was no gold on our cake. It was decidedly brown.
We covered it with the chocolate sauce that was included to try and jazz it up a bit.
Sadly, the final product resembled something your dog would eject if they’d snaffled a box of mince pies.
New Year, same old you – and that’s fine
Having already cashed-in on the emotions that feed into parental guilt and pressure during Christmas, now the big companies have pivoted to that fail-safe money-maker: telling us our bodies are a problem to be fixed.
But if Santa’s rotund physique is good enough to take him around the whole world in one night, surely ours are perfectly fine to carry us into a brand new year.
Do we need to go through the annual tradition of self-flagellation as we wait for the bells?
Must we endure the whole “New Year, New You’’ nonsense once again?
If social media companies are going to start the weight-hate train chugging down the tracks, they could at least let us enjoy the last of the Christmas treats first.
Or better still, they could just leave us in peace.
Now, where’s that box of Quality Street?