It's MAN Food!

Over the holidays, when we weren’t eating, drinking, dancing or sleeping, Dan and I took turns commandeering the remote. My picks: A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins and Real Housewives marathons (I’m nothing if not enigmatic.) His choice: Football or the World Poker Tournament.

While poker was on, I noticed this obnoxious new commercial from NutriSystem, all about something called “Man Food.” Did you know men like different foods than women? (ie men crave – no, NEED, burgers, pot roast and pasta, while women apparently desire only salads and diet Coke.) According to the commercial, with NutriSystem for Men, “Guys get more food (and we're talking "man food!”)

What exactly is Man Food, you ask? Why, it’s BBQ Sauce over Beef, Beans and Rice. It’s Beef Tacos . It’s Stroganoff Sauce with Beef and Noodles. It’s all beef! But it works: Take Larry M, for example, who lost 73 pounds. Check out some excerpts from his story:

"Being overweight was NOT music to my ears."

“I was recently playing with a local rock cover band. When I started playing with the band, it didn't take me very long to realize that I was the "big guy" in the midst of four fit guys. Plus, typically, I'd be out from about 7:30 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. Sometimes the gigs were on Friday nights after I had worked eleven hours at my full-time job. I sure felt it. In fact, one of the first things I noticed after my gigs was that when I would get up the next morning, my heels were so sore that I had a hard time walking. I had to make sure that I wore this particular pair of comfortable shoes to the gig to avoid the sore heels. I was also just completely drained of energy by the end of the night, and it took me a couple of days to fully recover. All because of the extra weight I was dragging around. …I had lost weight several times-but I was never been able to maintain the loss. This time, something had to be done if I wanted to continue playing in a rock and roll band-and I was having way too much fun to give that up.”

After NutriSystem, though, he is now known as "Slim.” At least by his car dealer (his words, not mine).

Now contrast that with Amy C’s story:

“I'm just like any other mom. After your body goes through the wringer with pregnancy, you're concerned that it will never be the same. Your body just changes so much. So after giving birth to my second child, Lila, I found myself asking if I could lose the weight this time. Especially after remembering all-too-well how I felt after I had Courtney. Depressed. Lifeless. Undesirable. Embarrassed. (my bold) Because of my weight, I hadn't wanted my husband Brad to get near me. Plus, it was hard to do the simplest things with Courtney. I just didn't want to go through those bad times again.”

Notice the difference? Larry lost weight to rock out with his, um, mike out. Amy lost weight so her husband would want to touch her again after she birthed their second child!

When exploring the Women’s section on the website, I checked into our “favorite” weight loss foods. I was intrigued because a frosted chocolate cupcake was used to represent the women’s foods sections. To their credit, the foods listed were actually the exact same – lots of beef, plus customizable diabetic and vegetarian plans. And for dessert? Oh, the options!  Milk Chocolatey Delight Bar! Sour Cream and Onion Soy Chips! NutriChocolates – whatever those may be!

Confusingly, Larry’s favorite NutriSystem Food is the Chocolate Crunch Bar and not some sort of meat-on-a-stick, while Amy’s best bite is Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.

I’m not the only one who noticed the difference/has bad taste in TV. Gina Barreca, a professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, recently wrote about the ads in The Chronicle of Higher Education (c’mon, you know you subscribe.)

“Let’s take a moment and quickly compare just the surface textures of these two ads. For the men’s plans, NutriSystem hires nationally famous former pro-athletes who are now newscasters to endorse their product. These are guys “used to being watched by millions of people.” In contrast, 40-year-old stay-at-home mom Julie V. wants to be noticed by the guys working in produce or stacking cans of Fancy Feast in the pet-food aisle. After all, she’d been feeling “that she had just blended into the background” when she was walking through the grocery store.

Still, Julie is LOTS better shape than Amy, what with not wanting her husband Brad to get near her (she actually sounds like she’s going to spit in his eye if he walks into the bedroom) and feeling “Depressed. Lifeless. Undesirable. Embarrassed” after having babies. (My student Sam suggests that Amy might have “issues,” which might be more appropriately addressed by the use of an effective birth-control regime rather than a diet plan.)

You’ll notice too that the guys get offered “man food” so that they don’t have to walk around with “ a dumbbell around their waist” and because they might put weight on their face. Women, in contrast, are trying to lose weight because their weight is “affecting their whole lives,” their husbands’ lives, and presumably the lives of their children, communities, guys at the supermarket, and for all we know, affecting unilateral efforts of world peace.”

 
Barreca also notes: “Women are offered “free counseling” (notice that “free” is in caps to emphasize that they’re probably going to need a lot of it.) There’s not a word about counseling for guys, however. So, for example, if a guy decides late one night to scarf down 12 “man-food meatloaf” dinners all in one sitting…because each of the meals is, let’s be honest, the size of an iPod Nano (that’s how one of my friends described the portions), presumably he’s on his own.”

Have you seen these commercials? Did the ridiculous difference jump out at you, too? Or did you stick with gender-neutral TV programming over the past week, thus avoiding the Man Food phenomenon? 

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