Guilty Pleasures of Chocolate in High Definition
In her article, “Hunger as Ideology”, sociologist Susan Bordo claims that chocolate advertisements have long used the symbolism of the idealized female body because the advertisers are aware of the insecurities women have about their bodies (Bordo, 2000, p. 104). Susan Terrio claimed that ads reinforce the stereotype of the female being unable to resist chocolate and therefore surrender to temptation (Terrio, 2000, p. 253). In the advertisement below, one of the related concepts to surrender is portrayed as “Guilty Pleasure”. This image typifies the subtler brand of idealizing the female body (notice the breast shape covered in chocolate with a cherry for the nipple). Not satisfied with the impact of the imagery, the text goes on to reinforce the primal emotional reaction: witness flavors like “Love Hangover”, “Red Hot Lover” “Dangerous Liaison”, and “Afternoon Delight” (“Pleasures,” 2012, p. 1).
Close up of graphic. Photo Credit: Paramourwayne.com
In the following modified advertisement, the aim of the graphic is to take a phrase that has long been assigned a certain meaning (guilty pleasure as a sensual and suggestive meaning) and modify the meaning by promoting the rethinking of the words “guilty” and “Pleasure”. This is being done by stating that child labor (arguably slave labor) is responsible for at least some of the production of chocolate. This concept is married to the guilty pleasure meaning to form a new and (hopefully) powerful meaning and message to the consumer of chocolate. The strength of this approach is that, because of the familiarity of the “guilty pleasure” part of the message, there is a better chance for the new meaning to be found, rather than using the part about child labor by itself.
Ultimately, this approach removes both the idealized female form, along with the connotation of feminine weakness for chocolate (if that is legitimate, this paper does not address) and replaces it with something completely different. Along with those concepts, the overt sexualization of chocolate is now missing, replaced with something much more disturbing to the eye and the senses. The subtle image of charged energy is now replaced with what seems to be an anonymous person hiding behind a basket. This image has nothing to do with the traditional forms of advertising chocolate, and therefore begin to break the stereotypes and phrases that serve as the foundation of thought structures related to chocolate. Ultimately, the combination of image and message evokes an emotion that is far removed from hunger, craving, sex, idealized physical bodies, innuendo and the privileged class. It is allowed into our mind’s eye because of the usurping of the “guilty pleasure” phrase, and therefore stands a higher chance to make an impression on the viewer.
Bordo, S. (2000). Hunger As Ideology. New York, NY: The New York Press.
Guilty Pleasures Four New Flavors. (2012). Retrieved from http://paramourwayne.com/news/guilty-pleasures-four-new-flavors/
Terrio, S. J. (2000). Crafting the Culture and History of French Chocolate. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.