Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thanks for nothing, Houlihans

195 pounds
For a few years now, Dave and I have been fans of the Houlihan's restaurant chain.

In general we're not fans of chain restaurants, preferring to spend our dollars at local eateries, but sometimes on road trips, we look for a Houlihan's as an easy way to find fresh, healthy food.

The Houlihan's Tuscan salad and tuna wontons are possibly my favorite road meal—certainly better for me than (and less than half the calories of) an extra value meal.

So when we were at Houlihan's with my parents over the summer, I was more than a little disappointed to see that the restaurant was jumping on the thin=beautiful bandwagon.

How did they do that?

By putting an advertisment on every table that featured supermodel Kate Moss' most famous quote: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

These words wrap around a tall, refreshing looking margarita and are intented to promote Houlihan's new "skinny" cocktails.

As soon as we sat down, my mother snatched up the advertisement, raised her eyebrows, and handed it to me. She was buying the party line. She could have her cake—or in this case, margarita—and eat it too.

"Sounds good, doesn't it?" my mother said to me, hoping I'd join her and order a $7 diet drink.

In all honesty, I'm sure that the people who do the Houlihan's advertising only intended to engage in some lighthearted wordplay. After all, they needed a clever tagline to put under their "Go skinny skipping" headline, and Don Draper certainly wasn't available to help them out last summer.

In that way, they remind me of so many other writers. . . writers who are just looking for an easy connection, an easy sell, an easy chuckle . . . not unlike the screenwriters for TV's former favorite sitcom, Friends, who regularly put Courtney Cox in a fat suit for cheap laughs.

No, they don't mean any harm, but that's not really the point is it? The real question is, do they cause any harm?

Kate Moss was one of the first models to really push uber-thinness, and we owe our current crop of anorexic-looking runway walkers to her. She was so thin, in fact, that a new description was invented for her look: heroin chic. In other words, being so emaciated that you look like a drug addict.

Nice. Real nice.

And that's why we shouldn't be recycling Moss's quips. We should be rejecting them. Shunning them. Yes, she's a part of our history and it's best to keep that history in mind as we move to a healthier future, but my God, we don't have to celebrate her, do we?

But this is exactly what Houlihan's is doing with their new "skinny" drink advertisements: promoting the idea that it's better to be skinny than it is to consume calories. In other words, they're making money by making you unhealthy.

As I said earlier, I'm sure the people who write copy for Houlihan's meant no harm, but that doesn't mean they're not doing any.

1 comment:

  1. One of the frustrating things I've been running into since I started reading your blog, is that people are constantly telling me I'm being way too sensitive about how girls see themselves. Like girls (and even men) are ALL capable of just making them love themselves everyday. And it's these little thoughtless, money grubbing things that make it hard for a lot of women and young girls to love themselves.

    I mean, they even use the word "tiny" in there. Sure it wasn't intentional, but it can be damn HARD to swallow a bite of food with some anorexic model being quoted right in front of you.

    Ugh. I'm a little grossed out by the entirety of people just looking to making money off all of us.

    Sorry for ranting!