Save the Whales

By: Cassandra Culkins

Ideology and Advertisements

                The piece of text that I have chosen to discuss was an advertisement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, more commonly known as PETA. The billboard was from 2009 and displayed the back of an obese woman in a bikini. In large text the billboard read “Save the Whales. Lose the Blubber: Go Vegetarian”. Needless to say there was much controversy over the billboard and the obvious hit that it threw at those who are overweight.

The message in this billboard suggests that if you switch to a vegetarian diet not only will you be sparing the lives of animals, but you will also lose weight. Though there is an underlying message that is calling those who are obese “whales” and referring to their fat as “blubber”. I can understand how this billboard overall could have the potential to send a good message, but the way that it is put forth is demeaning and humiliating to those who are overweight.

This billboard shows no class or respect for those who are overweight. It is without a doubt directly targeting overweight people and the affects that this has could be huge. There are many reasons for obesity, most of which are not caused by eating meat. Many people have bodily conditions that do not allow them to lose weight the way other people can, many have psychological issues and eating disorders, yet the billboard suggests that if one simply stops eating animals there way problems will be solved.

Comparing a human being to a whale is extremely humiliating in general and worse for those that are in the same condition as the women’s image on the billboard. Although this billboard was probably intended to be humorous, the way that it was gone about puts forth the ideology that being overweight is bad, and uses an image that is dehumanizing to do so. PETA could have addressed the health benefits of a vegetarian diet rather than ridiculing those who are overweight. This particular way of doing so is neither encouraging nor appropriate.

In many classes I have had previous to this Pop Culture class I have had to sit down and analyze what advertisements like this one are truly saying. In my freshman inquiry class we had an assignment to replace the text or part of an image in an advertisement to make it seem less glamorous, or to put forth the true meaning behind it. One of our examples was a diamond necklace with a tag that stated “You don’t need it, which is why you have to have it.” I feel like this was a good exercise for us to see things in a different light and for us to question what an advertisement is really suggesting to us. Since the beginning of having these teachings presented to me I have noticed much of the way ideology affects the general public and how they feel about themselves, others, and the world around them.

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