Is Apple Insulting People With Eating Disorders?

Over at The Huffington Post, Ashley Duque Kienze, a former bulimic, takes issue with the headline shown here:

With the help of my family, my faith and my friends, I gave up the unhealthy behaviors of my eating disorder three years ago. Today, I write a blog about eating disorders and other issues related to women to help others through their struggle with societal images of beauty. I don’t want other women or girls to hate their bodies. I want the media and our society to affirm all expressions of beauty, not just those that are “thin.”
Despite my progress, I’m still healing. At our support group meeting earlier this week, we had talked about the marketing messages so many of us see and hear, telling us that thin is beautiful. Toward the end of the discussion, a friend had turned to me and asked, “Have you seen the new Apple ad? It’s horrible.”
When I saw the ad later that night, I was shocked. While still a young professional in the world of public relations and marketing, I couldn’t believe the insensitivity with which Apple put out this ad campaign. Ads like Apple’s hit a nerve for all of us who struggle with thoughts that we’re not skinny enough.

Well, as some of the comments elude to, there’s a difference between the danger of too-thin bodies and the benefits of thin technology. But the ad is clearly painful for Ashley to see, and as it probably is for other folks recovering from eating disorders. It goes to show you, there’s no universal agreement on what should be off-limits in advertising.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Give me a break.
    I’m sure the photo of the snowboarder also offended some guy in Hawaii.
    I bet the photo of the girl with the pink balloon offended some guy who sells only blue balloons.
    This stuff is ridiculous. People need to stop being so thin-skinned and start being a little more realistic.

  2. I mean, like, come ONNNN says:

    Come On is absolutely right.
    Don’t we have more worthwhile issues to fret over?
    Also, here’s something people should think about more: we have lots of rights in this country, but the right not to be offended isn’t one of them.

  3. this ad is truly disappointing. for a company that has made some exceptional marketing choices, this is an exceptionally bad one. whoever wrote this has a complete lack of awareness of the struggles women face with body image. the fact that apple signed off on it, is even worse.
    ps: there aren’t have a gazillion men out there selling colored balloons with strong feelings, let alone eating disorders, over their hue.

  4. Rishi,
    How would you propose Motorola market the RAZR? By not saying it’s thin?
    Clearly, the ad’s talking about thin technology/electronics, not humans.
    Use your brain.
    Get offended by things that matter.

  5. I think of this sort of disagreement as being similar to a disagreement over a parking space: it doesn’t make any sense until you realize that the stakes are so low: they are primarily contests of rank.
    Even if we have shelter from the elements and a deep network of caring friends and family, we’ll start howling the minute some jackass cuts in line, or some jackass appears to want special treatment. As if they are more important! As if they matter more! Who do they think they are, making that kind of claim?
    But personal slights, unintended insults, trifles, trivialities, silly stuff, unimportant and meaningless things are not themselves the cause of conflict, but are instead occasions for conflict. It is the very fact that they are materially insignificant that makes them perfect arenas for the contesting of our rank, our status, our relative symbolic worth. It’s difficult for me to imagine anything more important to us than feeling like we matter. We are constantly on the alert to defend ourselves. I, for one, become fully capable of murder when I am not allowed to merge onto the freeway. How dare they!
    Apple sells with an arch, dignified flattery; it’s not surprising that a shift in tone to the more common, abrasive, aspirational scold (“You can never be … “) would bring back some hostility in some form or another. We expect that from some midlevel eatery, but not Apple. Perhaps they will work harder next time to devise a slogan that cannot be so easily hijacked for a completely different agenda.