Submitted by Volunteer Aimee Tritt
Two recent Yoplait advertisements have coined a term that enforces ideas about “good” and “bad” foods, to the detriment of young, female consumers. A swapportunity, as can be interpreted from the commercials, is an opportunity to exchange a higher-calorie snack or dessert for a yogurt, resulting in less guilt and presumably, a slimmer physique and a higher chance to attract the opposite sex.
The message sent from these commercials says this: young women should eat yogurt instead of “unhealthy” snack foods like cookies and chips if they want to stay thin (and attract a man). This type of messaging contributes to yogurt’s “health halo” effect and sets up young women to make choices based on perceived goodness rather than their own desires. Yoplait doesn’t care that their product isn’t as tasty as cookies or chips; they’re banking on the fact that women will feel less guilty about themselves if they choose yogurt over the snack they really want. The irony is that the nutritional distinction between the yogurt and cookies or chips are negligible when considered in the context of a balanced diet. A container of Yoplait® Original yogurt has approximately the same number of calories as a serving of potato chips and just as much sugar as the cookie. In taking advantage of their swapportunities, the young women in these commercials have only succeeded in stifling their true preferences by substituting a food that’s considered more acceptable in the eyes of today’s health-conscious consumer.