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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Beauty Product Branding Exploits Lack of Confidence

THESTYLEDEN.COM Products from the "fatgirl" range.
Products from the “fatgirl” range.

Over the past few weeks, I believed we had made a lot of progress in terms of encouraging self-confidence and positive body image. Take Meghan Trainor’s new single “All About That Bass,” which proclaims, “I know you think you’re fat, but I’m here to tell you that, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” I can’t remember the last time a song like that ever gained so much ground while tackling a real issue like body image.

So you could say I was feeling pretty hopeful in believing we as a society were moving in the right direction.

That is, until I walked into Sephora.

Smack in the center of the store was a stand labeled “Tan & Tone,” filled with tanning lotions and whatnot. I walked right by, since I’ve accepted that I will be forever white and since I’m too cheap to invest in an artificial “glow.” But then I did a double take, as the names of products from a particular line by a company called Bliss caught my eye: “fatgirl sixpack” and “fatgirlslim armcandy.”

How the branding “fatgirl” ever got chosen for a line of cosmetic products in the first place is beyond me. What kind of company would have the audacity to target an audience of “fat girls?” Not only does that marketing strategy operate under the assumption that anyone who wants to slim down must be “fat,” but it also implies that any girl who does not have a six pack or “beautiful, flaunt-worthy” arms (which by the way, are subjective terms that lack any concrete definition) is also “fat.”

Normally I’d try to extend them the benefit of the doubt, but this is simply outrageous.

It’s infuriating that Bliss is attempting to entice its audience to identify with the “fat girl” stereotype by tricking its consumers into believing that one needs a six pack to be perceived as “slim.”

On their website, Bliss has also extended this enticing offer: for only $145 you could order the “fatgirlslim lean machine” which delivers “effective vacuum-assisted massage action and helps visibly reduce the appearance of cellulite.”

Granted, the company managed to include the ever-so-helpful disclaimer at the bottom, clarifying “bliss fatgirlslim lean machine is not a weight or fat loss product,” which they post at the bottom of each of their fatgirlslim and fatgirl products.

But for those who are insecure enough about their bodies, desperate enough to go to any means necessary to achieve the “perfect body,” and lacking in positive role models like Meghan Trainor, that disclaimer doesn’t mean anything. At face value, the product clearly offers the promise of a quick slim down and the chance to be bikini body ready within a few applications. So those who were persuaded by these marketing techniques would only see past this false advertisement several hundreds of dollars later.

Maybe these products do allow for smoother, firmer skin, but Bliss is trying to target girls with body image issues, who already believe or are vulnerable to believing that they are fat. We live in the 21st century, so we should know better than to resort to ugly language to promote beautification. It’s tacky, primitive and insulting.

So to the CEO of Bliss, whoever you are, do yourself a favor: admit your mistake, and for heaven’s sake, change the name of your product.

Daria Etezadi is a rising sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Made From Scratch appears every other Monday at

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  • F

    FionaAug 5, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I agree with you in theory, but I’m not into your reasoning.

    “Fat” should not be regarded as “ugly language.” It is an adjective, in this case describing the size of a person. I will admit that in our current cultural moment, the word “fat” is often used as an insult and as a polar opposite of “beautiful”; I can certainly remember the catty and damaging insults of twelve-year-olds thrown at the “fat kid” in class. Yet there are women who embrace “fat” as their size, and as something beautiful. Re-appropriation can be a powerful thing. Your post seems to assume that calling someone a fat girl is an attack on their person, or that “believing” you are fat is a dangerous thing.

    Now, yes, a product advertised as a quick fix for fat girls wishing to become slim — slim being the ultimate beauty ideal — is insidious. I would argue, then, that any beauty product which focuses on appearance is just as insidious, and panders just as much to oppressive, patriarchal standards of beauty. Take that self-tanner you passed in the aisle. Is it not calling out to me to use it because I am pale, and cannot achieve that same color that more naturally tan girls can achieve, the color that every magazine of the early 2000s told me was beautiful and ideal? Maybe it isn’t called “Palegirlbrown,” but its message is similar: “use daily to achieve a healthy glow!” What about expensive conditioners and serums that claim to turn my frizzy hair “smooth and touchable?” Why isn’t my hair touchable when I use my cheap shampoo and a comb and call it a day? Just about every beauty product out there operates on the assumption that we should want to make ourselves look pleasing and appealing to others, no matter how much the product is marketed for the pleasure and benefit of the user.

    Also: Check out this response to the Meghan Trainor song – “I Am Not All About That Bass: Deconstructing The Summer’s Feel-Good, Body-Positive Hit” on a blog called Trout Nation.

    • G

      gabriellaAug 7, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Personally, I think you’re nitpicking. You shouldn’t spend so much time thinking about the “hidden meanings” in advertisements. I have naturally dark olive skin and I still use self tanner. I have fine hair and I use shampoo to make my hair “full and voluptuous.” I personally don’t read as deeply into things as you do and I think life is better that way. If you don’t want to use the products, then don’t use them, but you shouldn’t hate on these companies because some of them have really stellar products. If you’re going to right an opinion piece on an item maybe you should try it before you bash it.

  • G

    GabriellaAug 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    I think that advertising is an extremely difficult place and Bliss has used this “Fatgirl” label not in a derogatory way but rather in a sarcastic way. The fact of the matter is that I’m 5’2 and weigh 115 pounds and no matter how many hours I spend on a treadmill or elliptical I can’t get rid of my cellulite, it’s genetic. I have used Bliss “Fatgirl slim” and “Fatgirl sleep” and my cellulite has decreased in appearance significantly. I don’t think that you can say it’s “false-advertising” if you have never tried it.