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September 28, 2007

Beautify Your Insides!

I need to take a minute to discuss how much I hate Metamucil's new ad campaign.

[For those who don't want to waste 30 seconds of their life watching or are pretending to do work right now, let me sum up: Metamucil wants us to primp, coif, gussy up, and beautify our insides. Apparently Metamucil may help to lower cholesterol, so that will make us more heart-healthy and therefore beautiful. There is no mention of what Metamucil is or what it is actually supposed to be used for.]

Apparently this girl has an unsexy colon, and really needs to beautify her insides by eating a healthier diet with lots of whole grains and fruit and veg...I'm sorry, I mean by stealing her grandma's Metamucil and becoming a laxative junkie.

So, let me get this straight. After us women have amassed our arsenal of magical diet pills (and shakes and meal replacement bars and anti-cellulite cream and blah blah blah) and face creams and makeup with scientific beauty technology or whatever, and we've put on the push-up bra and the pantyhose and the four inch heels and we're ready to face the world...nope, sorry ladies. Now we have to have sexy digestive tracts too if we want to be truly beautiful.

I love that Metamucil is trying to get away with this vague repositioning of itself as a "beauty product" for women. On their website they say that they've added "fiber supplement" as a new usage option on their package directions. Why?

Why did the Metamucil label change to include both laxative and dietary fiber supplement information?

The product itself has not changed. The label has changed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim for foods and dietary supplements that recognizes that diets containing soluble fiber from psyllium husk, as in Metamucil, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol when included as part of a low-fat diet. The label now provides this information on how Metamucil can be used as a dietary fiber supplement and as a fiber laxative for regularity.

Ah, an FDA approved health claim. I feel better already. But with such a great health "claim" about lowered cholesterol, it's surprising that the ad campaign seems to be directed only at younger women rather than at the widest possible audience. Weird. Well, maybe there's a companion ad out there with middle aged men skipping through fields of sunflowers while talking about gussying up their insides, and I just haven't caught it yet. So if this dietary supplement business is a new usage, what was the original use for Metamucil again?
How does Metamucil work for laxation?

Metamucil contains a bulk-forming fiber without any chemical stimulants. The active ingredient, psyllium, is a harvested grain that absorbs and holds moisture. This causes the psyllium to swell, supplying the necessary bulk to help form an easily eliminated stool. Metamucil will not cause immediate evacuation but generally produces an effect in 12 to 72 hours.

Oh yeah. That. I could get into some feminist discourse here about the beauty myth and unrealistic expectations placed on women by society and the media. But really I think it's enough to say that it's extremely fucked up that a company would try to market a laxative as a product that young women should use to make themselves more beautiful. Some women already do try to use laxatives that way--women with eating disorders. Did anyone at Metamucil stop for a minute to think that these ads are basically sending the message that it's okay to use laxatives as a diet aid? Sure, they don't come right out and mention weight loss, but the ad is all about 'cleansing your body' and being more beautiful. And all of the women in the commercial just happen to be thin and pretty.

This is condescending advertising at its best. "All we have to do is say that something is a beauty product, even if it clearly isn't, and plenty of gullible women will fall for it." It's a laxative. Maybe it lowers your cholesterol, maybe it doesn't, but it's still Metamucil. It's for constipation. It's not glamorous or feminine or sexy, and colorful packaging and berry flavoring (hopefully) isn't going to convince too many women that it is.

Listen, Metamucil. No offense, but you can suck it. It's bad enough that women already have to watch commercials about how low fat yogurt is 'orgasm good' or how we should be on special magical birth control so that we can venture out of the house when we have our periods. We don't need this too. Thanks, but we just want to watch Rock of Love in peace.


Anonymous said...

I love Metamucil...but I get constipated frequently. I've never noticed a side effect of, um...beauty. HAHA

Anonymous said...

A professional makeup artist (emmy winner for what its worth) told me that we eat so many preservatives and additives in our food that our skin is actually turning more and more yellow. We are dying ourselves from the inside out...
perhaps a good metamucil induced poop could help keep us turning to orange colored people or ...or...something.
Next...preparation H will be calling it self a beauty product.

Anonymous said...

How bout the Metamucil marketing campaign from that movie Crazy People:

"Metamucil: We help you go to the toilet so you won't get cancer and die."