In light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, I felt the urge to rant about the most recent egregious exploitation by the food industry: Halo Top ice cream.
From a marketing standpoint, the new, low calorie ice cream is an absolute success. The brand is easy to find everywhere and is the most talked about new ice cream in a long time.
The unfortunate news is that the brand has taken an incredibly cynical approach to our food culture. It markets itself as the easy way to eat an entire pint of ice cream guilt free. It encourages people, especially women, to feel free to eat an excessively large amount of ice cream either as dessert or, better yet, as a meal replacement. It feeds the guilt of a generation of women constantly torn between endless dieting and liberation from our culture of thinness.
Rather than enable a feminist escape from the exploitative pressures of modern culture, this brand attempts to box women into the shame of eating ice cream indulgently while preserving the desire for thinness.
As a last insult, the brand doesn’t divulge the possible side effects of overeating the artificial sweeteners in Halo Top: gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.
In the eating disorder treatment world, the brand encourages binging, discourages eating meals and real food and condones eating behaviors that reinforce these illnesses.
That we live in a culture which allows marketing of explicitly damaging brands is abhorrent. It is one thing to market cheap food alternatives and another to exploit the psychological and emotional vulnerabilities of our society for a profit.